First ship docks at Churchill July 9 to load cargo bound for Nunavut

A resupply ship en route from Quebec to Nunavut and a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker accompanying it were the first ships of the season to dock at the Port of Churchill July 9.

The MV Aujaq is picking up additional cargo including trucks, boats and construction materials in Churchill for transportation to Nunavut’s Kivalliq communities such as Arviat, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet.

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“It is great to see goods arriving by freight train to the port and loaded for export,” said Churchill Mayor Mike Spence in a press release. “I’d like to congratulate all of our partners at Arctic Gateway and recognize the help of the government of Canada that got us here today. We have a lot of work to do to continue the reinvestment in the Churchill port and Hudson Bay Railway but today is a great day. We are pleased that on Nunavut Day, the territory’s 20th birthday, goods from Churchill are being exported north. We will continue to re-establish these relationships for the benefit of our region.”

Arctic Gateway, which took ownership of the Hudson Bay Railway, Port of Churchill and Churchill marine tank farm from former Owner OmniTrax about 10 months ago, has been encountering recent delays on the railway and said on Facebook July 9 that a freight train on the way to Churchill this week will arrive in the afternoon or evening of July 11, rather than the morning as scheduled.

“The slight delay is due to the delay of the train to accommodate work crews working on tie replacement on the Thompson sub,” said Arctic Gateway’s post. “We apologize for any inconvenience. We remain committed to track and infrastructure improvements for the safety of our workers and communities.”

In late June, Arctic Gateway announced that it had identified track defects requiring repairs and resulted in the slowing of trains in certain portions of the Herchmer subdivision. As a result of this slowing, concern arose about whether train crews could cover the section of track between Gillam and Churchill in 12 hours, the maximum time that one crew can run a locomotive. Via Rail cancelled some passenger trains but Arctic Gateway continued to ship freight while having a supplementary rescue crew in Churchill to relieve engineers, if necessary. Artic Gateway said the July 2 Via passenger train made it between Gillam and Churchill in 10 hours and 40 minutes, about an hour faster than prior to the additional slow order being issued, because of work by HBR track crews.

“We will continue our improvements to the track, with much more to come as we spend substantial funds to replace railway ties, rail and add material to stabilize the track bed,” said Arctic Gateway on their Facebook page July 3. “All with safety top of mind.”

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