Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Escape From Churchill

Photo by Patricia Sinclair
You may recall that VIA's Winnipeg-Churchill train has been stranded in Churchill, Manitoba for months, since flooding severed the line in May. No work has been done to repair the track so the two locomotives and five passenger cars have been sitting by the station.

Soon VIA Rail's trapped train set is going to be extracted from Churchill by ship.

Two If By Sea

The CBC and the Winnipeg Free Press are reporting that the MV Nunalik is bringing 2.2 million litres of propane to Churchill, and it will take the two locomotives and five train cars to Quebec afterward.

A set of rail panels and ties appeared in Churchill in mid September and many people speculated they were going to be used for transferring the VIA trainset to a ship.

I expect the track will be laid on the ship and then the cars will be individually hoisted aboard.

The Nunalik

The MV Nunalik is a heavy lift ship with its own cranes on board (2 x 180 tonne), so it is certainly capable of lifting a locomotive or passenger car. It is new to the Inuit-owned NEAS fleet serving the North. It was built in China in 2009 so it is pretty new.

The news articles suggest the ship will arrive in Churchill on October 8th but the NEAS schedule shows October 13th as the arrival date and October 15th as the departure date. The CBC is also calling the Nunalik a "barge", which is wrong.

Nail in the Coffin

I don't think anyone blames VIA Rail for doing this. It's October and nothing has been done to fix the rail line, and the construction season is just about over for the year. There's no chance of getting the train out by rail this year, and as VIA indicated in an interview for the Free Press, the train is starting to rust. They have to preserve their asset.

It's just a very visible indication that the rail line isn't getting fixed this year. And that sucks.

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Richard Poersch said...

This is Via Rail only option, due to all parties waiting for each other to repair the rail line. Via Rail would loose those assets if left in Churchill without protected storage.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Richard, I agree, it's the only option for VIA. It's not good for the people of Churchill but VIA has no choice but to get the train out before it rusts out.