Manitoba

'I wanted to jump for joy': Freight service returns to Churchill, Man.

After more than a year-and-a-half without rail service, a familiar sound returned to Churchill, Man. this weekend.

The first freight train rolled into Churchill since the rail line was repaired

Hudson Bay Railway locomotives carrying freight arrived in Churchill Saturday night. (Cameron MacIntosh/CBC)

After more than a year-and-a-half without rail service, a familiar sound returned to Churchill, Man. this weekend.

Residents of the northern Manitoba community heard the horn of the first freight train to arrive since tracks leading up to the town washed out in the spring of 2017.

It was an exciting moment for Patricia Kandiurin, who braved the cold to see it firsthand.

"The sound of that train, you know, listening to the steel on steel, listening to the engine... It was a comforting feeling, very comforting to know that we have our lifeline back," she told CBC News, Sunday.

"I grew up listening to that all year round, living in Churchill, and to not hear that for 18 months was like dead silence," she said.

"I wanted to scream, I wanted to jump for joy,"

Freight service from Thompson, Man. to Churchill, about 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg, was suspended after severe flooding washed out portions of the Hudson Bay Railway in May 2017, severing the town's only land-link and sending cost of living in the area soaring.

'It's my home'

Without rail services, the town of roughly 900 people was a fly-in only community for approximately ayear and a half, driving up living expenses, food costs and the price of gasoline.

"It was really tough for a lot of people," said Kandiurin, 52, who has lived in Churchill her entire life and owns a bed and breakfast with her husband.

"There was times I felt like giving up and leaving, but it's my home."

The freight train arrived around 6 p.m. with a load of vehicles that were purchased before the rail service was cut off.

A map shows how rail service connects much of northern Manitoba. (CBC)

Churchill Mayor Mike Spence said the next milestone the community can look forward to is the return of passenger service, something he expects to happen in early December.

"It feels good," he said on Sunday. "It's another step that indicates that the rail line is up and running, which is great news."

With files from Caroline Barghout and Tessa Vanderhart

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