Train passengers bussed to Prince George
VIA RAIL transferred its Prince George-bound passengers to a bus in Terrace this afternoon in response to an Idle No More blockade of CN's tracks today at Kitwanga.
The passenger train got as far as Woodcock, just west of Kitwanga, before returning to Terrace.
The train's locomotive engineer Lester Leer said he's experienced blockades of this sort in his career, even one years ago in Kitwanga.
“It was looking good,” he said of today's trip, noting that he thought it would be stop and go – meaning that the blockade would let passenger trains through at points throughout the day. “Then here we are back in Terrace.”
The nine passengers got off the train at the George Little House Via station in mid-afternoon while bus service to Prince George was organized.
Some passengers were noticeably irritated at the change in travel plans that left them nearly four hours behind schedule.
“We paid good money to take the train,” said first-time train passenger Don Hawn, who is from a suburb of Edmonton. “But it's not the train's fault.”
In the meantime, CN has been idling its various freight trains on either side of the blockade which began approximately 10 a.m.
Observers say approximately 100 people are at the blockade organized by a group calling itself Gitxsan Warriors.
And just in the last hour, CN reported it has successfully been granted a court injunction to take down the blockade.
“This is an illegal blockade and we have received a court injunction. It has not been served yet, but we're hoping the protesters will leave peacefully... We have been in discussion with the First Nations and the local RCMP throughout the day, and if they leave before the injunction is served that would be better,” said CN spokesperson Jim Feeny, noting that shipments to Prince Rupert will not immediately resume.
“Service will only resume once we have access to the site and are able to do the proper inspections and ensure we can continue in a safe manner... We have to be completely ensured that the integrity and safety of the track before we will let a train pass.”
Feeny said the company would not quantify how much traffic or cargo was impacted by the blockade.