CANADA: A financing package for the modernisation of Canada’s first Indigenous owned and operated railway has been announced by Tshiuetin Rail Transportation, Canada Infrastructure Bank, Transport Canada and the government of Québec.
Tshiuetin (‘North Wind’) has owned and operated the 217 km line from Emeril Junction to Schefferville since 2005, and operates a 574 km ‘lifeline’ passenger service from Schefferville to Sept-Îles using Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway tracks south from Emeril.
This provides the only readily accessible link connecting three First Nation communities on the route. ‘Its presence is crucial to local communities, including First Nations, and our support will help ensure its continuity’, said Jonatan Julien, Québec’s Minister of Energy & Natural Resources.
The funding package announced on July 8 will support significant track improvements, construction of a new station, and upgrading of one worker lodging camp and construction of another. More fuel-efficient locomotives and more comfortable coaches with internet access will be acquired, and control systems improved to increase safety.
The modernisation aims to contribute to economic growth and ensure the sustainability of the strategically important infrastructure while also preserving the environment by reducing emissions.
CIB is to provide a long-term fully repayable loan of C$50m, the first investment under its Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative to invest C$1bn in partnership with and for the benefit of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. It is also CIB’s first investment in Newfoundland & Labrador.
The government of Québec will provide C$5m repayable over the next two years as part of its Northern Action Plan 2020-23 to ensure multi-user access to the Labrador Trough.
Transport Canada has supported Tshiuetin since 2005, and will provide subsidies of at least C$12m per year to cover operating and capital expenditure for the next three years under its Remote Passenger Rail programme.
‘With the financing and financial assistance from our partners announced today, we will expand our capacity to deliver on our mission to provide safe, reliable, and environmentally friendly services to our passengers and customers, while boosting our local economy through the creation of business and employment opportunities in the North’, said Tanis Peterson, Director General & CEO of Tshiuetin Rail Transportation.