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CN Rail threatens to close network over blockades

Last Updated Feb 11, 2020 at 11:28 am PDT

FILE - A CN locomotive moves in the railway yard in Dartmouth, N.S. on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

MONTREAL – Canadian National Railway Co. says it will be forced to close “significant” parts of its Canadian network unless blockades impeding its rail lines are removed.

CN says more than 150 freight trains have been halted since Thursday evening, when demonstrators set up blockades in British Columbia and Ontario in solidarity with opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northwestern British Columbia.

Via Rail says 157 passenger trains have also been cancelled, affecting 24,500 travellers on routes between Montreal and Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto.

The ongoing blockades sit near Belleville, Ont., and near New Hazleton in northwestern B.C., while other demonstrations cropped up Tuesday in locations ranging from the Halifax port to the B.C. legislature.

RELATED: Entrances to B.C. legislature blocked as pipeline protests flare across Canada

Industry groups are also expressing concern about the shutdown, with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters association urging government officials to work with police to restore rail service.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau says he is working with the railways and his Ontario counterpart Caroline Mulroney to find a solution, and that blockage of tracks is “dangerous and illegal.”