Tshiuetin Rail Transportation

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TRT logo.png
Tshiuetin at Sept Iles.jpg
A train at Sept-Îles departing for Schefferville
Other name(s)North Wind
LocaleQuebec and Labrador
Coordinates53°04′04″N 66°12′11″W / 53.0676959°N 66.2031418°W / 53.0676959; -66.2031418Coordinates: 53°04′04″N 66°12′11″W / 53.0676959°N 66.2031418°W / 53.0676959; -66.2031418
TypeHeavy rail
OpenedDecember 1, 2005; 16 years ago (2005-12-01)
Track length217 km (135 mi)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Route map

Knob Lake Junction
Redore Junction
Howells River
Ross Bay Junction to Labrador City
Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway

Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc. (reporting mark TSH, formerly TRT) is a rail company that owns and operates a 217-kilometre (135 mi) Canadian regional railway that stretches through the wilderness of western Labrador and northeastern Quebec.[2][3] It connects Emeril, Labrador with Schefferville, Quebec on the interprovincial boundary. The company also operates a 356-kilometre (221 mi) railway that connects Sept-Îles, Quebec to Emeril.[2] The company is the first railway in North America owned and operated by Indigenous peoples,[4] specifically by the Innu Nation of Matimekush-Lac John, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, and the Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam.


Map showing the rail line between the two red points of Schefferville (top) and Emeril Junction (bottom)
A train entering the main line at the Ross Bay Junction

Tshiuetin (/iˈwɛtən/) Rail Transportation operates on the Menihek Subdivision, a rail line running from Emeril Junction to Schefferville. The Menihek Subdivision used to be part of the QNSX main line, constructed between 1951 and 1954.[5] After mining activity in Schefferville ended with the closure of the Schefferville iron mine in 1983,[6] QNSX shifted its priority to the Sept-Îles to Labrador City line, and the Emeril Jct to Schefferville line had limited freight and subsidized passenger service for the remaining First Nations communities in the region.[7]

By 2006, passenger rail service was considered by the Canadian government to be the only surface transportation mode available to and from Schefferville.[8] Preceding the purchase of the Menihek Subdivision, QNSX was actively looking to sell off the rail line, but no other pre-existing railroad companies made purchase offers. Three local First Nation councils formed a single company to buy the line from QNSX.[7]

In 2004, Tshiuetin Rail was issued a certificate of fitness by the Canadian Transportation Agency, before the railroad acquired the Menihek Subdivision.[9] The company took possession of the Menihek Subdivision "as is, where is". The company was to provide all passenger rail and limited freight service. The company will also provide passenger rail service on the remaining QNSX-owned line running from the port of Sept-Îles to Emeril Jct (and on to Schefferville).[citation needed]

Tshiuetin Rail began operations on December 1, 2005, with the conclusion of an agreement between the three owners of Tshiuetin Rail and the owners of the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway (QNSX), Rail Enterprises Incorporated and Iron Ore Company of Canada. Under this agreement, finalized in the fall of 2005, QNSX sold its Menihek Subdivision, for the nominal sum of $1.[7]

The agreement between IOC and the three First Nations who own Tshiuetin Rail has resulted in the first aboriginal ownership of a railway line in Canada.[10]

This railway (along with the QNSX line, Chemin de fer Arnaud, and Wabush Lake Railway) form an isolated railway network, as it does not interchange with any other rail lines on the North American network.[citation needed]

In media[edit]

The importance of the line is documented in Caroline Monnet's 2016 short film Tshiuetin.[11]

On July 6, 2020, Chloë Ellingson of the New York Times published an extensive pictorial essay on the railway.[4]


  1. ^ "Rail Map". Tshiuetin Rail Transportation.
  2. ^ a b "Fact Sheet" (PDF). CCN Matthews. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-26. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  3. ^ "IOC colours" (PDF). CCN Matthews. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  4. ^ a b Ellingson, Chloë (2020-07-06). "Commuting, and Confronting History, on a Remote Canadian Railway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  5. ^ Krim, Arthur (2016). "Urbanism and Iron Mining in Labrador". FOCUS on Geography. American Geographical Society. Retrieved 2021-03-19. The decision was made to build a railroad, the Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway (QNS&L) north from the St. Lawrence port of Sépt-Iles (359mi/573km) to the new town of Shefferville on the Quebec-Labrador border. Construction started in 1950 and was completed to Shefferville in 1954
  6. ^ R.J. Wardle (2004). The mineral industry in Newfoundland and Labrador: its development and economic contributions (PDF) (Report). Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. p. 29. Retrieved 2021-03-19.
  7. ^ a b c "Life in the frozen north: Canada's first native-owned train is the pride of its community". 3 November 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-11-27.
  8. ^ "Canada's New Government supports First Nations railway". Canada.ca. Government of Canada. 2006-10-27. Retrieved 2021-03-19. Passenger rail service is the only surface transportation mode available to Schefferville and is used by First Nations people in the area to travel to their traditional hunting, fishing and trapping territories on a year-round basis.
  9. ^ Stremes, Dave (May 2005). "Information Line: Other Industry News" (PDF). Branchline. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Bytown Railway Society. p. 17. Retrieved 2021-03-19.
  10. ^ Bell, Richard (2007-02-06). Dr. Richard Bell (General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc.) at the Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities Committee (Speech). Canadian House of Commons HUMA Committee Meeting Feb. 6th, 2007. Open Parliament. Retrieved 2021-03-19.
  11. ^ Monnet, Caroline (2016). Tshiuetin. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2017-03-01.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]