Canadian rail company CN Rail is shutting down its eastern network due to protests against the Coastal GasLink pipeline. The rail company will shut down trans-continental train services amid blockades protesting a pipeline in British Columbia. It will effectively stop all cross-country freight trains. It will also affect passenger trains nationwide, which use CN tracks.
It canceled more than 150 routes previously amid protests against the pipeline.
This pipeline began last week which Prime minister Justin Trudeau’s government says invigorate natural gas exports in British Columbia. Its route cuts through indigenous Canadian land.
CN’s chief executive, JJ Ruest, called the stoppage a “regrettable” situation but due to circumstances that are beyond their control.
He said, “Our shutdown will be progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely,”.
Around 5 million Canadian commuters use the intercity trains on tracks mostly owned by CN Rails. Thousands of them have already been forced to find an alternative.
What is the issue?
The Coastal GasLink pipeline is a 670km long pipeline to ship natural gas from the north-eastern part of the province to the coast. It is a $4.5bn (C$6bn) project in a remote part of the province which is about a day’s drive from Vancouver. has been working since 2012.
Around 28% of the pipeline route passes through Wet’suwet’en lands.
Coastal GasLink said it has reached deals with 20 elected indigenous councils along the route to move ahead with construction, including some Wet’suwet’en councils.
But Wet’suwet’en chiefs oppose it and say they, not the community’s elected officials, hold authority over traditional lands. They have warned that the project will cause pollution and endanger wildlife.
For years, protesters have erected camps along the proposed pipeline route to prevent access to construction sites.