VIA Rail passengers stranded in Winnipeg as service is suspended nationwide

WINNIPEG — VIA Rail passengers made an unexpected stop in Winnipeg Thursday night.

Shelby Janvier said he was travelling from Toronto to Saskatoon, but was told the train could go no further. 

“I was supposed to arrive in Saskatoon [Friday] at 11:50,” said Janvier. “It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.”

Janvier is one of at least a dozen passengers now travelling to Saskatchewan by bus after VIA Rail suspended its service across most of Canada. 

“VIA Rail has no other option but to cancel all of its service on the network with the exception of Sudbury-White River (CP Rail) and Churchill-The Pas (Hudson Bay Railway) until further notice,” said VIA Rail in a statement to CTV News. 

It said it made the decision after CN, which owns the tracks, announced its closing its eastern Canada corridor. 

In a statement to CTV News, CN said, “While the illegal blockades have come to an end in Manitoba and may be ending imminently in British Columbia, the orders of the court in Ontario have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored.” 

Protesters are still camped out on tracks near Belleville, Ont., as a show of solidarity with anti-pipeline protesters in Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia. It’s one of several demonstrations across the country in support of hereditary chiefs who oppose the project. 

“They’ve been trying to get awareness for this cause in many ways, but I’m not sure this is the right way to do it,” said Annette Stanley, a VIA Rail passenger. 

Pankaj Harsora, who was travelling with his wife and 5-year-old son, said the stopped service has put a damper on his family vacation. 

“It would be good to see the Canadian landscape,” said Harsora. “That was our intention, but now we’re not going to be able to see it.” 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is monitoring the situation, and added protesters must follow the law. 

CN has warned the blockades could lead to layoffs.