Hudson Bay Railway (1997)
HBRY in black and KR in grey
|Dates of operation||1997–|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Headquarters||The Pas, Manitoba|
|Website||Hudson Bay Railway|
HBRY was formed by railroad holding company OmniTRAX in July 1997 to purchase former Canadian National Railway (CN) rail lines running north from The Pas, MB on two branches, one to Flin Flon, MB and on to Lynn Lake, MB, the other to Thompson, MB and on to the Port of Churchill on Hudson Bay. Operations began on August 20, 1997.
At the same time, OmniTRAX also took over the operation and marketing of the Port of Churchill from Transport Canada. Previous owner CN had limited the allowable tonnage to operate on the lines as a result of the light rail and poor track base. However, the HBRY has been able to successfully operate heavier rail cars and longer trains in recent years without difficulty, resulting in increased business to the Port of Churchill and from various mines and pulp mills.
HBRY is considered a vital transportation link in northern Manitoba, hauling ores and concentrates, copper, zinc, logs, kraft paper, lumber, and petroleum products. Via Rail Canada also uses HBRY tracks to operate its passenger train service between The Pas and Churchill.
The line was constructed by an earlier company of the same name. The Hudson Bay Railway was built starting in the early 1900s under Canadian Northern Railway before being taken over by the Government of Canada and completed in 1929. The lines were operated by Canadian National Railway from 1929-1997 before being sold to OmniTRAX.
- 2005 washout
On July 27, 2005, heavy rains washed out part of the railroad between The Pas and Pukatawagan; all service over the line, including Via Rail trains 290 and 291, was suspended while repairs took place. Service was restored on August 2, 2005, two days ahead of initial expectations.
- 2006 sale of Keewatin Railway
On April 1, 2006, the Hudson Bay Railway sold the former CN Sherridon Subdivision, between Sheritt Junction and Lynn Lake, to the three native tribes in the area, who now own and operate the railway, running twice-weekly mixed (passenger plus freight) trains.
- 2017 washout
On May 23, 2017, OmniTRAX announced that due to unprecedented floodings, the line was closed indefinitely between Amery and Churchill, pending evaluation of the damages and repairs.
References in Popular Culture
- The American novelist Courtney Ryley Cooper's 1931 adventure novel End of Steel is a fictionalized recounting of the line's original construction.
- Calgary performer John Leeder wrote and recorded a song titled "Hudson Bay Line" about the rigors of bygone train travel on this route. According to Leeder, "it's been recorded six times that I know of."
- Via Rail Canada (July 27, 2005), Hudson Bay Railway closes line - Via service form The Pas to Pukatawagan temporarily cancelled. Retrieved August 1, 2005.
- Via Rail Canada (August 2, 2005), Via resumes service between Churchill and Winnipeg. Retrieved November 20, 2005.
- "OmniTRAX Announces Indefinite Closure of the Hudson Bay Railway from Amery to Churchill". OmniTRAX Inc. CNW. 2017-06-09. Retrieved 2017-06-10.