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Federal government set to sue Omnitrax over broken rail line to Churchill

Federal government set to sue Omnitrax over broken rail line to Churchill
From CBC - November 13, 2017

The federal government says it's planning to make good on a promise to sue the owner of an inoperable railway to the town of Churchill after the company failed to meet a 30-day deadline to fix the lifeline to the northern Manitoba community.

Sunday marked 30 days since Transport Canada threatened to sue Omnitrax, the Denver-based company that owns and operates the Hudson Bay Railway, which has been shut down since May when severe flooding overtook the line from Gillam to Churchill.

"We are really just at a loss for words," said Ashley Watts, a Churchill mother who is working two jobs as the price of food has soared in the community.

"We just thought something, our governments would have helped us out and Omnitrax would be gone by now and stuff would be happening. I was sure of it anyhow."

Omnitrax, which has previously said it wo not pay to repair the rail line, has failed to notifythe government about any repairsover the last 30 days, said Mlany Gauvin, a communications adviser for Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

Prices in towncontinue to skyrocket

The government said the company has breached a 2008 contract Omnitrax signed with the province and the federal governmentthat made it responsible for the operation and repair of the rail line until October 2018.

In 2008, the federal and provincial governments each gave $20 million to the company, which was also expected to put in $20 million, to upgrade the railroad.

The rail line's closure has forced the town, located about 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg, to rely on air servicesending the costof basic living skyrocketing, and leaving some residents unable to afford the cost of a plane ticket out.

Gas prices alone have risen by 30 per cent in the communityin recent weeks.

'They just need to get over themselves'

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