CN shuts down eastern rail network in Canada, Via service

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Canada Rail Protest

Protesters march on a street in Ottawa, Ontario, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. The protesters are standing in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to a Canada gas pipeline in northern British Columbia. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) — Protesters who are blocking railway lines forced CN Rail to shut down its train network in eastern Canada on Thursday, the railroad said.

The company said that also meant stopping all transcontinental trains across its Canadian network.

Via Rail said the decision also was forcing the stoppage of all its passenger rain service in Canada, which mostly uses CN track.

Blockade organizers across Canada have said they are acting in solidarity with those opposed to a pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation near Houston, British Columbia.

The blockade in eastern Ontario caused both CN Rail and Via Rail to suspend all service between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

CN Rail, which says it transports goods worth 250 million Canadian dollars ($188 million) annually across Canada, said it sought and obtained court orders to end the illegal blockades.

CN Rail said it had tried to adjust its operations to serve customers but it was left with no choice but to stop eastern Canadian operations.

"With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protesters,'' JJ Ruest, CN Rail's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

“This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN's activities, and beyond our control.”