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Ottawa funding study on permafrost conditions along Hudson Bay Railway

Canada’s federal government has announced $4.4 million in funding, under the National Trade Corridors Fund, for a study to understand the current and future conditions of permafrost along the Hudson Bay Railway corridor – a decision welcomed by the Arctic Gateway Group. The railway represents a vital link for people and cargo in the port/city of Churchill, Manitoba. 

The study will be undertaken by the University of Calgary and will identify potential mitigation strategies and tools related to permafrost hazards. The results of this study will be used to develop strategies to ensure the safety and resiliency of the Hudson Bay Railway corridor.

 In an e-mailed statement to Maritime Magazine, the Arctic Gateway Group’s CEO Sheldon Affleck indicated that substantial progress has been made on repairs to the Hudson Bay Railway line and that grain shipments are on schedule to resume at the Port of Churchill in the Fall of 2023.

“Regular freight service and Via Rail’s passenger services continue to operate but heavier freight such as multi-car grain transportation services to the Port of Churchill were put on hold in November, 2021,” he recalled.

​Over 200 kilometres of the rail line require the installation of rock ballast below the surface of the track.  New technologies are being applied to ensure the long-term stability of the rail line to avoid future interruptions in service. 

“The result will be a fully rehabilitated, sustainable and reliable rail line that will form the backbone of a new high-volume business that will take full advantage of the competitive edge and the great shipping advantages of the Port,” Mr. Affleck stated.

​“In the meantime,” he concluded, “we are building a strong customer base and are confident that this vital supply-chain infrastructure will become one of the leading transportation corridors in Canada by mid-century.”

The rail line was badly damaged by flooding in May 2017. Shipments of grain have declined from 620,000 tonnes in 2007 to 138,000 tonnes in 2019. (Arctic Gateway Group photo)