VIA Rail has cancelled all of its service across Canada due to protestor blockades that have forced its infrastructure owner, Canadian National Railway Co, to shut down its entire network.
As of 4 p.m. EST, VIA Rail stated that there will be no more train departures and until further notice. Upon infrastructure owner instructions, all VIA Rail trains currently en route will be brought to the closest major train station.
CN Rail says that means stopping all transcontinental trains across its Canadian network and it may lead to temporary layoffs for eastern Canadian staff.
Protesters across Canada have said they're acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which crosses the traditional territories of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation in northern B.C.
CN Rail says it has tried to adjust its operations to serve customers but it is now left with the only remaining responsible option: progressively shutting down eastern Canadian operations.
"With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protesters," said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN in a news release.
"This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN's activities, and beyond our control. Our shutdown will be progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely."
VIA Rail says that it will provide full refunds for all cancelled trips, which are being processed automatically. Customers do not need to contact VIA Rail to confirm the refund, but should anticipate that due to the volume of transactions it may take up to 15 days to receive.
In order to allow be able to help as many customers as possible, VIA Rail respectfully requests that you contact its VIA Customer Center only in cases of immediate urgency, at 1-888-VIA-RAIL (1-888 842-7245), TTY 800-268-9503 (deaf or hard of hearing).
VIA Rail operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking over 400 communities across Canada, and about 180 more communities through intermodal partnerships, and safely transported over 5 million passengers in 2019.
CN is responsible for transporting more than $250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network of roughly 20,000 route-miles spanning Canada and mid-America.
With files from the Canadian Press.