Canadian Railway Closes Key Routes Due to Pipeline Protester Blockades

(P&GJ) — Canadian National Railway (CN) said it is shutting down its Eastern Canadian operations because of illegal blockades by indigenous protesters opposing the construction of Coastal GasLink pipeline, broadening their economic impact despite court orders that resulted in 33 arrests earlier in the week.

(photo: Canadian National Railway)

CN, Canada's largest railway, said it was forced to initiate a disciplined and progressive shutdown of its Eastern operations, which will include "stopping and safely securing all trans-continental trains across its Canadian network and may imminently lead to temporary layoffs" of operational staff in the region.

“With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our Eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protestors,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN.

Intercity service will be halted across CN's network, but the railway said it would continue to operate its commuter rail services so long as it can do so safely.

“This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN's activities, and beyond our control. Our shutdown will be progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely.”

CN sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies for the illegal blockades in Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia. While the illegal blockades have come to an end in Manitoba and may be ending imminently in British Columbia, the orders of the court in Ontario have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored, CN said.

The C$6.6 billion ($4.97 billion) Coastal GasLink pipeline, to be operated by TC Energy Corp, is set to move natural gas from northeast British Columbia to the Pacific coast, where the Royal Dutch Shell-led LNG Canada export facility is under construction.

Russ Girling, the CEO of Calgary-based TC Energy, said he was "extremely disappointed" that police had to be called in to enforce the court order in support of Coastal GasLink.

"[But] we will continue our efforts to attempt to engage with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en and Unist'ot'en in search of a peaceful long-term resolution that benefits all of the people in that community," Girling told U.S. National Public Ratio.

Protests have been ongoing since Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed an agreement to build the Coastal GasLink pipeline, saying they hold authority over traditional lands, not the elected indigenous band councils the provincial government had consulted.

Some 28% of the 420-mile (670-km) Coastal GasLink route passes through Wet'suwet'en lands. Construction has continued along other parts of the pipeline route.

In December, private equity firm KKR & Co Inc and Alberta Investment Management Corp agreed to buy a 65% stake in Coastal GasLink Pipeline.

Related News


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}