Ottawa, Feb 14: Via Rail has announced suspension of its passenger train service across Canada until further notice as the disruption caused by anti-pipeline blockades intensified nationwide. The company said that it has no other option than to cancel all train service effective immediately.
"We understand the impact this unfortunate situation has on our passengers and regret the significant inconvenience this is causing to their travel," it said in a statement on Thursday. The announcement came as CN Rail, the country's largest railway, is "initiating a progressive and orderly shutdown of its Eastern Canadian network" because the indigenous protesters near Belleville in Ontario province have refused to dismantle their blockade. 'At this point, there was a concern whether or not we could carry out our service obligations with (Via). The situation is beyond our control and the safest thing for us to do - for all passengers - is to make sure they don’t get stranded ... by canceling all service until further notice across the country,' CN Rail spokesman Jonathan Abe cassis said in an interview with the Star.
Protesters have blocked rail traffic across the country, including the busy corridor between Toronto-Montreal and Ottawa-Toronto as they are against the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation in British Columbia province. The protests began last week after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police enforced a court injunction against Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters. They have halted construction of the pipeline, a major piece of a Canada liquefied natural gas export project worth 40 billion Canadian dollars (about 30 billion US dollars). The railway shutdown is expected to affect the transport of food and consumer items, grain, deicing fluid for airports, construction materials, propane supplies and natural resources like lumber, aluminum and coal in the country. (UNI)