Man. rail movement to resume as water recedes

(Resource News International) — Floodwaters along the Red River in southern Manitoba have receded enough that Canada’s two national railway companies have resumed or will resume operations on their rail line subdivisions in the region in the very near future, according to spokespersons from each railway.

“Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) resumed service on its subdivision, which runs from Winnipeg to Emerson and across the border into Noyes, Minn., and then down into the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, on April 28,” said Mike LoVecchio, CPR’s senior manager of media relations.

“However, operations on the CPR branch line that runs from Morris to La Riviere were not expected to resume until possibly this coming weekend.”

Once the Manitoba government gave the green light to resume service on its Emerson subdivision, the line was operational within 24 hours as there was very little work required to restore service, other than replacing track panels, he said.

However, CPR’s other branch line suffered a fair amount of damage to the rail bed from wave-generated water erosion. “Those repairs are currently underway,” LoVecchio said.

CPR’s two subdivisions had been shut down April 3 because of the flooding in southern Manitoba.

CP also had to remove some track where the rail line passes through ring dikes made by towns along the subdivision. Track was removed from the dikes around Emerson, Dominion City and Morris, Man., LoVecchio said.

Kevin Franchuk, with operations at Canadian National Railway (CN), said the company’s Letellier, Man. subdivision, which runs from Morris to Emerson, resumed operations May 17. The line was originally closed due to flooding April 6.

“Regular operations on that line have now resumed,” Franchuk said, noting that the line was found to be in good shape with only minor repairs to the roadbed and removal of washed-up debris needed.

“The closure of the rail lines certainly created problems in trying to move product,” said James Loewen, manager of Bunge Grain at Altona, Man., about 40 km northwest of the U.S. border crossing at Emerson.

He said the company’s frustration came from having full rail cars of canola oil at the site and not being able to ship the product to customers. “We tried some trucking but the preferred method remains rail,” he said.

During CPR’s rail line closure, the decision was made to close the crushing plant for its two-week maintenance shutdown, Loewen said.

Loewen also acknowledged CPR has been in contact with his company and is preparing to move the full rail cars of canola oil out as soon as it’s able, possibly within the next few days.

“We share our customers’ frustration, but this is Manitoba in the spring,” CPR’s LoVecchio said. “This will not be the first or last time this kind of situation will occur.”

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