MONTREAL, QUÉBEC, CANADA — The Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) will be forced to shut down significant parts of its Canadian network imminently unless blockades on its rail lines are removed.
On Feb. 3, the Wet’suwet’en Heredity Chiefs filed an application for a judicial review of the BC Environmental Assessment Office decision to extend the environmental certificate for Coastal Gas Link’s proposed fracked gas pipeline in Northwest British Colombia for another five years.
According to CTV News, the blockades are in support of Wet’suwet’en Heredity Chiefs challenging the construction of a 670-kilometer natural gas pipeline through British Colombia.
CN cited a public statement from the individuals blocking the lines stating that their actions are in solidarity with the pipeline opposition movement and are unrelated to CN’s activities.
The blockades near Belleville, Ontario, on CN’s only eastern link between Western Canada and Eastern Canada and between Eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest and on CN’s northern mainline in British Colombia between Prince George and Prince Rupert, are impacting all Canadians’ ability to move goods and enable trade.
“It’s not just passenger trains that are impacted by these blockades, it’s all Canadian supply-chains,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN. “We are currently parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end.”
There are currently no movements of any trains, freight or passenger, at both those locations. Hundreds of trains have been canceled since the blockades began five days ago.
“Intermodal containers carrying perishable goods, including food and consumer items, Canadian grain, deicing fluid at airports, construction materials, propane to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, natural resources creating rural jobs across Canada such as lumber, aluminum, coal and propane; all of these commodities are already impacted and will see their movements even more diminished,” Ruest said. “Factories and mines will be soon faced with very difficult decisions. The Port of Prince Rupert is effectively already shutdown. The Ports of Montreal and Halifax are also already feeling the impact of these blockades, which will have a trickledown effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks.
“We have obtained court injunctions for both locations and we are working with local enforcement agencies to enforce the orders. We have also engaged with customers, industry associations as well as officials in Ottawa and across Canada to explain to them the consequences and material impact that shutting down the railroad will have on their constituents.”
CN transports more than C$250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network of approximately 20,000 route miles spanning Canada and mid-America.