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Hudson Bay Railway (1997)

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Hudson Bay Railway reporting mark HBRY is a Canadian short line railway operating over 1,300 kilometres 810 mi of track in northeastern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba

HBRY was formed by railroad holding company OmniTRAX in July 1997 to purchase former Canadian National Railway CN rail lines running north from The Pas, MB on two branches, one to Flin Flon, MB and on to Lynn Lake, MB, the other to Thompson, MB and on to the Port of Churchill on Hudson Bay Operations began on August 20, 1997

At the same time, OmniTRAX also took over the operation and marketing of the Port of Churchill from Transport Canada Previous owner CN had limited the allowable tonnage to operate on the lines as a result of the light rail and poor track base However, the HBRY has been able to successfully operate heavier rail cars and longer trains in recent years without difficulty, resulting in increased business to the Port of Churchill and from various mines and pulp mills

HBRY is considered a vital transportation link in northern Manitoba, hauling ores and concentrates, copper, zinc, logs, kraft paper, lumber, and petroleum products Via Rail Canada also uses HBRY tracks to operate its passenger train service between The Pas and Churchill

Major customers for HBRY include HudBay Minerals, Tolko, Vale, Gardwine North, Stittco Energy, Farmers of North America, and formerly, the Canadian Wheat Board


  • 1 History
  • 2 References in Popular Culture
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


The line was constructed by an earlier company of the same name The Hudson Bay Railway was built starting in the early 1900s under Canadian Northern Railway before being taken over by the Government of Canada and completed in 1929 The lines were operated by Canadian National Railway from 1929-1997 before being sold to OmniTRAX

2005 washout

On July 27, 2005, heavy rains washed out part of the railroad between The Pas and Pukatawagan; all service over the line, including Via Rail trains 290 and 291, was suspended while repairs took place Service was restored on August 2, 2005, two days ahead of initial expectations

2006 sale of Keewatin Railway Main article: Keewatin Railway

On April 1, 2006, the Hudson Bay Railway sold the former CN Sherridon Subdivision, between Sheritt Junction and Lynn Lake, to the three native tribes in the area, who now own and operate the railway, running twice-weekly mixed passenger plus freight trains

2017 washout caused extended, ongoing outage and economic impact

On May 23, 2017, OmniTRAX announced that due to unprecedented floodings, the line was closed indefinitely between Amery and Churchill, pending evaluation of the damages and repairs Loss of rail service, both passenger and freight, has impacted the tourism industry and imposed other costs on Churchill's already-fragile economy Churchill, and other northern communities where cargo must now be delivered by air, "face skyrocketing prices for staples such as groceries and fuel"

Due to a disagreement over what entity is responsible for repair costs, it is uncertain whether the line will ever be repaired The Canadian govenment has filed an $18 million lawsuit against OmniTRAX for breach of contract The position of Canada's Natural Resources Minister, Jim Carr, is that "Omnitrax Inc has legal obligations to repair the rail line and its tracks," citing a contract that requires OmniTRAX to "operate, maintain and repair the entire Hudson Bay Railway Line in a diligent and timely manner until March 31, 2029" The position of OmniTRAX is that the extensive flooding constitutes a force majeure that excuses it from fulfilling the contract

References in Popular Culture

  • The American novelist Courtney Ryley Cooper's 1931 adventure novel End of Steel is a fictionalized recounting of the line's original construction
  • Calgary performer John Leeder wrote and recorded a song titled "Hudson Bay Line" about the rigors of bygone train travel on this route According to Leeder, "it's been recorded six times that I know of"


  1. ^ Via Rail Canada July 27, 2005, Hudson Bay Railway closes line - Via service form The Pas to Pukatawagan temporarily cancelled Retrieved August 1, 2005
  2. ^ Via Rail Canada August 2, 2005, Via resumes service between Churchill and Winnipeg Retrieved November 20, 2005
  3. ^ "OmniTRAX Announces Indefinite Closure of the Hudson Bay Railway from Amery to Churchill" OmniTRAX Inc CNW 2017-06-09 Retrieved 2017-06-10 
  4. ^ Robertson, Dylan 29 Aug 2017 "'Churchill dying,' business leader says, vowing blockade if Via tries to ship rail cars south by barge" Winnipeg Free Press Retrieved 22 November 2017 
  5. ^ "Feds demand Omnitrax fix Churchill rail line" CBC News 1 Sep 2017 Retrieved 22 November 2017 
  6. ^ Dacey, Elisha 14 Nov 2017 "Omnitrax threatens NAFTA challenge as Ottawa files lawsuit" CBC News Retrieved 22 November 2017 
  7. ^ http://wwwirontrailca/HBLhtml
  8. ^ http://wwwcalgarysongwritercom/interv3htm

External links

  • Railways portal
  • Hudson Bay Railway corporate site
  • Timetables and bookings
  • Hudson Bay Route Association website

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