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Manitoba premier says Churchill rail repairs need federal response

The track repairs could cost up to $60 million, but neither the company that owns the line, nor the province seem willing to fund the project


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WINNIPEG—The Manitoba government isn’t about to pay for repairs to a washed-out rail line that links the community of Churchill on Hudson Bay to the rest of the province.

Premier Brian Pallister says he is waiting on a response from the federal government.

The rail line’s owner, Denver-based Omnitrax, said on Tuesday that repairs to flooding damage could be completed over two months this fall and would cost up to $60 million.

Omnitrax said it will not put up the money, because it has already spent $75 million on the track since 1997 and can’t justify paying any more.

Pallister told CJOB Radio in Winnipeg that the province has been working on several temporary solutions.

Earlier this week, the province said it would increase its subsidy for milk, infant formula and fresh fruit and vegetables that have to be flown into Churchill.

When asked if the provincial government would buy the rail line if Omnitrax backed out, Pallister replied “of course not.” He said it is a federal issue.

Churchill, a popular tourist destination for watching beluga whales and polar bears, has been cut off ever since the track was damaged in May.

Without the rail line, goods have to be flown in to the community of 900 at a much higher cost. A four-litre jug of milk currently costs $12.

With files from CJOB


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