CN forced to shut down parts of rail network, obtained injunctions

A screenshot from a video posted to YouTube on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020 that appears to show demonstrators at the blockade at the Wyman Road rail crossing in Tyendinaga near Shannonville burning an injunction served to them by the Ontario Provincial Police.

The Canadian National Railway Company (CN) has announced that it will be “forced to shut down significant parts of its Canadian network imminently” unless the blockades on its rail lines are removed.

The announcement came from CN on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, and notes that the individuals blocking the lines are doing so in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en pipeline opposition movement, which is “unrelated to CN’s activities.”

CN explained that the blockades, which are taking place at the Wyman Road rail crossing in Tyendinaga near Shannonville, between Belleville and Kingston, are on CN’s only eastern link between western Canada and eastern Canada, and between eastern Canada and the US mid-west, as well as on CN’s northern mainline in B.C. between Prince George and Prince Rupert. These blockades are “impacting all Canadians’ ability to move goods and enable trade.” There are currently no movements of any trains – freight or passenger – at both locations, CN said, noting that hundreds of trains have been cancelled since the blockades began. The impacts of this are being felt beyond Canada’s borders and are “harming the country’s reputation as a stable and viable supply chain partner,” CN said.

“It’s not just passenger trains that are impacted by these blockades, it’s all Canadian supply-chains. We are currently parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end,” said JJ Ruest, President and Chief Executive Officer at CN.

In a statement from CN, Ruest went on to say that intermodal containers carrying perishable goods including food and consumer items, Canadian grain, deicing fluid for airports, construction materials, propane to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and natural resources such as lumber, aluminum and coal have already been impacted and “will see their movements even more diminished.”

“Factories and mines will be soon faced with very difficult decisions. The Port of Prince Rupert is effectively already shutdown. The Ports of Montreal and Halifax are also already feeling the impact of these blockades, which will have a trickledown effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks,” he said.

CN said that it is working with law enforcement to address these issues.

“We have obtained court injunctions for both locations and we are working with local enforcement agencies to enforce the orders,” Ruest said. “We have also engaged with customers, industry associations, as well as officials in Ottawa and across Canada to explain to them the consequences and material impact that shutting down the railroad will have on their constituents.”

Despite that, demonstrators at the blockade near Shannonville have appeared unmoved by the injunctions. On Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, a video posted to YouTube shows those at the demonstration at the Wyman Road crossing discussing receiving “mail” from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and appears to show the demonstrators burning an injunction that had been delivered to them that day.

“I asked them to explain this and they walked away from me, so I can’t accept more mail, because I don’t understand the first mail,” one of the demonstrators says in the video as she uses a lighter to light the document on fire.

“There’s the (expletive) court injunction,” another demonstrator says. “Nicest thing that piece of paper did was go back to the earth.”

Earlier today, VIA Rail announced further cancellations of passenger trains and advised travellers to seek alternative forms of transportation.

Kingstonist will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as more information becomes available.

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