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First train rolls into Churchill since 2017

2018-11-01

McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

Visiting Churchill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Nov. 1 that rail service to the isolated northern Manitoba community will be back to normal by the end of the month. Residents had celebrated the arrival of the first train in more than a year on Wednesday evening, a day ahead of schedule, Canadian Press reported.

Flooding in the spring of 2017 damaged the tracks and severed the only land link to the town of 900 people.

The federal government provided $74 million to help fix the railroad and buy it, along with the town's port, from Denver-based Omnitrax.
"This is your victory," Mr. Trudeau said Thursday as he stood in the cold in front of several rail cars. "I know times have been incredibly tough but the resilience and determination you have shown has been inspiring."

 

Since the line was washed out, goods and people have had to be flown into Churchill and prices for groceries and fuel have skyrocketed. The tourist economy was hit hard and some residents left town.

Trudeau said Omnitrax showed no interest in repairing the line, so it was important to shift ownership to the community and to those who shared a similar vision for the North.

The assets were bought by the Arctic Gateway Group - a partnership between several First Nations communities, Fairfax Financial Holdings in Toronto and Regina-based AGT Food.

The federal government has promised $43 million over 10 years to subsidize operations. "With this new deal, Churchill will have full control over its future," Mr. Trudeau said. Photo: CBC/Radio Canada

 
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