1st Train into Churchill in 3 weeks with emergency food and supplies

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1st Train into Churchill in 3 weeks with emergency food and supplies
Posted by Miningman on Monday, March 20, 2017 11:41 PM

 1st train in 3 weeks arrives in Churchill following blizzards

Northern Manitoba town's grocery shelves were bare as major blizzards kept trains with supplies south

CBC News Posted: Mar 20, 2017 8:33 PM CT Last Updated: Mar 20, 2017 8:33 PM CT

 

Carrots and milk are finally back on the shelves of the grocery store in the remote northern Manitoba community of Churchill after two major blizzards kept trains filled with supplies away for weeks.

"[The train] came in some time this afternoon and the Northern Store extended its hours to accommodate any community members," said Shane Hutchins, Churchill's deputy mayor.

OmniTrax, the Denver-based company that owns the rail line that brings supplies into Churchill, cleared the tracks and a train with supplies departed around noon Monday from the northern Manitoba town of Gillam, about 270 kilometres southeast of Churchill.

Keith McDougall watched the train roll in and went to the store after. He said he figures that it was reloaded with produce at some point because the vegetables hitting the shelves looked fresh, not like they'd been sitting on a train for weeks.

"There were pallets all over the place and staff pulling stuff out and putting it on the shelves," McDougall wrote in an email to CBC. "Even as we were at the checkout [we noticed], 'Oh look, they just put carrots out!"

Milk was also a hot ticket item for the residents crowding into the store, he said.

 

Before the train arrived, there was no bread or vegetables for sale and meat products were scarce. Hutchins said  while Churchill residents are prepared for blizzards, have deep freezes and help each other out, but with two blizzards in two weeks, there was concern.

"Usually we get a weekly train in from the south, but with the blizzards that we have been having, we hadn't had one since March 1," he said.

Churchill declared a state of emergency after a three-day-blizzard blanketed the community, shutting down some essential service. 

On Monday morning, the town was confronted with near-zero visibility and strong wind gusts of 90 to 100 km/h. A low pressure system over Hudson Bay also brought wind chill values as low as -40 C. The wild weather calmed down later in the day but Hutchins said it will still be two weeks before the community is truly back to typical weather conditions.

Hutchins said an airplane delivery with more cargo and food is expected on Wednesday and another train may also be headed to the community on Friday.

Keith McDougall watched the train roll into Churchill and went to the local grocery store to get fresh produce.

Keith McDougall watched the train roll into Churchill and went to the local grocery store to get fresh produce. (Keith McDougall/submitted)

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Posted by Ulrich on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:04 AM

I sent a truck into Churchill a few years back.. My last words to the driver (a Texan) were "watch out for the bears". A couple of days later he arrived and called.."you weren't kidding about the bears!!!.there are polar bears walking behind where I'm delivering!!!!".. Got to love Churchill.

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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 9:30 AM

Note the VIA equipment at the station...ex CPR Budd built ...even a dome observation...guess #693 and 690 were not running for a while or food supplies could have come in that way. 

1700 Km's in 2 days journey. Heck of a train.

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Posted by wanswheel on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 3:43 PM
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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 4:39 PM

I am impressed by the videos. Keith, thanks for the very descriptive videos. Hope the Via Cars were on shore power and not freezing up. Video shows the drifts and the depth graphically. Hope you can keep your toes from freezing and your camera also.

 

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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 6:34 PM

Wanswheel- Can you image how they did this in 1929? Food, communication, power, heat, and on and on. It must have been gruelling, daunting and demanding. These guys were made of some kind of stern stuff.

Electroliner 1935- I detest cliches so I have to bite my lip and say "put this trip on your bucket list"...get a sleeper on VIA up to Churchill and see the Polar Bears and the Arctic Watershed. 

PS- Wait until the summer.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 6:37 PM

Miningman
Wanswheel- Can you image how they did this in 1929? Food, communication, power, heat, and on and on. It must have been gruelling, daunting and demanding. These guys were made of some kind of stern stuff.

Electroliner 1935- I detest cliches so I have to bite my lip and say "put this trip on your bucket list"...get a sleeper on VIA up to Churchill and see the Polar Bears and the Arctic Watershed. 

PS- Wait until the summer.

Don't think I want to celebrate the Spring Equinox in Churchill.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Ulrich on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:35 PM

It's lovely up there in the Spring.. and summer. all of Northern Manitoba is one of the best kept secrets going..  

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:58 PM

If VIA cars there does that mean a Via train stranded there along with its crew ?

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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 9:53 PM

The VIA train is currently not operating into Churchill. I believe the train is running Winnipeg-The Pas ( pronounced the "Paw"). Not safe travel continuing on north. There are some permafrost problems between The Pas and a place called Hudson's Bay ( not the port).

Normally train runs Tues, Thirs, Sat from Churchill Tues, Sun. From Winnipeg. 

The equipment sure as heck is stranded. Crews may have been flown out or perhaps live in Churchill. 

The train has been suspended a number of times due to bad track conditions and problems with permafrost.

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 10:05 PM

 

 Data Hudson Bay Railway 1929.

 

Thank You Sir!!

 

The article answered a question I had in the back of my mind!!

Account the COLD, did they have to ' Haul ' water for locomotives and such from the South, the answer being 136 miles North to Churchill.

Just as dry as a desert, in a different way.

Presume might apply to other Railways operating in the North, worldwide.

Steam was a REAL pain in the A. In the Hot deserts and the Cold.

No Condenser Engines need apply for the Churchill Run. Altho' ??

Turbine for the Draft.

 

Thank You

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 12:28 AM

My fear here is that they give up on the railroad entirely. 

Omnitrax has it up for sale. Native groups, First Nations, are negotiating to purchase. That would be just fine with me as the Federal Government would them throw a lot of money that way, assist with loans, to upgrade the track.

It is essential, vital,  we keep the Port of Churchill as a viable option and railservice continue along into this wilderness. 

First Nations have now purchased, own entirely and run 2 railroads In Canada. They already purchased one of them from Omnitrax and is now the Keewatin Railway, the other an iron ore operation in Quebec. Plus they partner/work with VIA on a passenger train departing from the Pas on a branch line up to the Lynn Lake area.  They seem to be doing OK. 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one because we have lost far far too much. 

We do a disservice to history and visionary thinking, not to mention the future if we continue to strip bare and run assets into the ground in order to satisfy a few uber wealthy investors. 

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 2:50 AM

Miningman

My fear here is that they give up on the railroad entirely. 

Omnitrax has it up for sale. Native groups, First Nations, are negotiating to purchase. That would be just fine with me as the Federal Government would them throw a lot of money that way, assist with loans, to upgrade the track.

It is essential, vital,  we keep the Port of Churchill as a viable option and railservice continue along into this wilderness. 

First Nations have now purchased, own entirely and run 2 railroads In Canada. They already purchased one of them from Omnitrax and is now the Keewatin Railway, the other an iron ore operation in Quebec. Plus they partner/work with VIA on a passenger train departing from the Pas on a branch line up to the Lynn Lake area.  They seem to be doing OK. 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one because we have lost far far too much. 

We do a disservice to history and visionary thinking, not to mention the future if we continue to strip bare and run assets into the ground in order to satisfy a few uber wealthy investors. 

 

 

The upkeep must be terrible on the Churchill Line re the climate, even if no trains are run at all.

If there ARE viable resources that might need to be accessed at a later date, possibly just leave it in place as Railbanked I think the term is.

Doubt the whole route will become a Spandex Hike and Bike Back to Nature route for a little while?  ( The Kat just choked a bit over that in a visual he had. )

Another story about the Kat, later.

Maybe thats why CNR took back the line to Hay River/Pine Point Jct. in case they DO build the pipeline down the Mackenzie??


OT.

What happened to the Lynn Lake Line? Is it still there, or was it lifted?

Quote.

In 1953 the CNR extended a branch line from Cranberry Portage to Lynn Lake.

Unquote. 

There is film footage of the first CNR train into Lynn Lake w one of their A1A CLC/FM roadswitchers.

Example.

http://www.trainweb.org/oldtimetrains/photos/cnr_diesel/7617.jpg

Moving the town.

http://www.kingofobsolete.ca/Don's_pictures_on_Webpage.htm

A drunk I know was having a fling in Puk, and was lucky to escape with his life.

Fifty years of Booze, Abortions, Abuse and Jail.

Trail of Years, Beers, and Tears.

Messy killing in The Pas c. 1971. One of the dudes later lived here, and passed away a few years back.

Thank You

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 7:25 AM

I believe that the Churchill line was the last route in North America on which grain was still shipped in boxcars, mostly because the line couldn't support the greater weight of covered hoppers.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 9:09 AM

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 9:14 AM

Rails have been removed to Lynn Lake. The Keewatin Railway goes as far North as a place called Pulatawagan about 160 MILES North from The Pas.

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Posted by Ulrich on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 10:25 AM

Miningman

Rails have been removed to Lynn Lake. The Keewatin Railway goes as far North as a place called Pulatawagan about 160 MILES North from The Pas.

 

 

This is where government ownership would have made sense. The North has so much in the way of resources and of course the Bay. I remember back in the 80s when the The Pas was a busy CN hub, with ore coming in from the mine in Flin Flon  and general freight coming up from Winnipeg for distribution throughout the North. 

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 5:34 PM

 

 

There were TWO versions of this car.

This is the Churchill Car.

http://imagescn.techno-science.ca/railways/index_choice.cfm?id=61&photoid=2138709623

Thank You.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 5:54 PM

More Rather shocking news today...Saskatchewan Government has canned STC..Saskatchewan Transportation Company, which is the bus service across the whole province going everywhere. 300 drivers lose their jobs. Service shut down for 2 days just to explain things to the employees and it all ends in May. I hear Taps being played. 

Up here where I am the STC bus nightly arrival is a BIG DEAL..it always tows along a pup trailer loaded with parcels. 20,30 cars waiting each evening for the parcels to come off. Now What? 

Only public transportation we have. 

Someone start relaying rails..we need those visionary get 'er done railroad builders and nation builders back...is there a modern day James J. Hill or Van Horne...or all they all either in Silicon Valley developing Big Brother or become snowflakes on welfare. 

Have great fears for the North. Sustainable big catchy trendy word these days. 

Love that articulated Grain Hopper developed for "muskeg running" replacing the boxcars that CSShegewisch alluded to. That was the problem...permafrost and muskeg...those cars were sucessful. 

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Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 6:02 PM

NDG

There were TWO versions of this car.

The other one was for potash.  The grain one for Churchill was scrapped years ago but as far as I know the potash one is still in revenue service, the last time I saw it was about 3 years ago in a CN manifest train.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 6:55 PM

In that case I will have to take back they were successful. They did run grain hoppers up to Churchill. Have not heard much about it since it went to Hudsons Bay Ray, then OmniTrax. 

I dont know..have no answers. If the Native Bands get it I think it all works out in time. They are having big problems with the track in several locations. You would like to think we can overcome things these days because just what the heck did they do for the last 80 years. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 7:04 PM

Miningman
In that case I will have to take back they were successful. They did run grain hoppers up to Churchill. Have not heard much about it since it went to Hudsons Bay Ray, then OmniTrax. 

I dont know..have no answers. If the Native Bands get it I think it all works out in time. They are having big problems with the track in several locations. You would like to think we can overcome things these days because just what the heck did they do for the last 80 years.

It is one thing to have a roadbed in permafrost hold up to 40 & 50 ton loads.  It is totally different kind of engineering exercise to have it hold up under 80-100 ton loads.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 7:16 PM

Then thats what we do, 40-50 ton loads, until we have the technology to improve roadbed and support under these adverse conditions. 

The rail line to Hudson Bay and throughout the North is not the Union Pacific Railway, or CSX, or anybody else. Big deal, just more cars, longer trains, probably some reloading from the big guys. 

It costs more, its a pain, but you should see my heating bill!

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Posted by csxns on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 7:53 PM

Miningman
improve roadbed and support under these adverse conditions.

How do paved highways hold up to conditions like this?

Russell

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 8:10 PM

Miningman
Then thats what we do, 40-50 ton loads, until we have the technology to improve roadbed and support under these adverse conditions. 

The rail line to Hudson Bay and throughout the North is not the Union Pacific Railway, or CSX, or anybody else. Big deal, just more cars, longer trains, probably some reloading from the big guys. 

It costs more, its a pain, but you should see my heating bill!

Easier said than done in the 21st Century rail industry.  Nobody is building such small capacity cars and I would expect the car builders would charge several body parts to do it and with that the investment would have such little utility except for Churchill and the limited number of similar lines.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 8:29 PM

They don't. The pavement ends at La Ronge in Northern Saskatchewan, which is about 1/2 way up the province. All highways and roads North of that are gravel. Everyone up here has cracked windshields...everybody. 

Semi's move along on the gravel pretty well, better in the winter actually with hard pack snow but loose gravel comes flying at you when you encounter one. Large sinkholes and collapsed roadways are commonplace as are road closures from time to time. 

Lots of them semi's carrying Lime, Molten Sulpher, Annhydrous Ammonia, huge machinery, whole buildings, to the Uranuim Mines.

Pulp trucks too but not nearly as many as there used to be. 

Ice roads in the winter on the frozen lakes. Lots of them too. 

The Hwy from La Ronge to the Flin Flon cutoff is not paved and EVERYTHING North all the way to the NWT is not paved, nor is there cell service On any of it. Cell service ends here. There are pockets in some settlements But it could be many hours before you get to one.  Folks travel with emergency supplies and if you slide off into the ditch or breakdown someone will come along and stop...eventually. Bears, bugs, no service, no gas, no coffee...one plans a bit. 

However, the abundant wild blueberries are delightful. Fishing is trophy stuff and easy as pie. 

We have lots of snowflakes but it's a good idea not to be one up here. 

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 9:14 PM

40 - 50 ton loads could be done by only partially loading the current capacity cars. (Somebody want to improve the grammar in that sentence ?)  Cheaper than special cars, as BaltACD points out. 

It'd be interesting to try to improve the muskeg subgrade to support heavier loads - if a guess-timated couple hundred megabucks (US or Cdn, not much different for this purpose) can be found and applied to such a project.  

  • One easy & economical step would be injection of cement to form an almost-solid block underneath.  That would spread the load (surcharge, for those who know what that term means), and both the sinking down and squishing back up alongside the track (non-technical term - probably everyone knows what that means) - kind of like what happpens when you step into soft mud. 
  • Another would be to "sled and undercut" the track, install a heavy plastic geotextile fabric, and then palce and tamp a thick layer (12") of good ballast. 
  • Yet another would be to remove sections of the track, excavate about 3' below the top of rail, and install about 12" of dense subballast and 6" of ballast, install new track panels, then add the rest of the ballast and tamp it.
  • There may be other methods, too . .  .

- PDN.    

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 10:35 PM

Paul_D_North_Jr

40 - 50 ton loads could be done by only partially loading the current capacity cars. (Somebody want to improve the grammar in that sentence ?) 

What is...just don't fill the cars up?Whistling

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 10:36 PM

What is the ounbound traffic on this line? What was the line built for?

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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