BC flooding: Trains roll back after landslide cuts key supply links


The first trains have rolled into Vancouver since floods and landslides cut key supply links in southern British Columbia, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. said.

CP cars laden with grain and Prairie fuel were brought into the port city this morning after limited service resumed on washed-out tracks.

The Calgary-based company said its rail corridor was damaged at about 30 locations between Vancouver and Kamloops, BC, with “significant loss of infrastructure” at 20 of those locations. .

“The coming days will be critical to getting the entire supply chain back in sync,” said spokesman Salem Woodrow in a phone interview.

Hundreds of employees and contractors worked around the clock to repair railway lines after torrential rains and landslides swallowed up damaged streets and highways, tossing CP carriages and at at least one locomotive along Fraser Canyon near Hope, BC

East of Lytton, BC, tracks still hover over a section of the Trans-Canada Highway that was washed away by a landslide.

Beginning on November 14, flooding led to the movement of cargo between Canada’s largest port and BC’s Okanagan Valley region, displacing hundreds of residents and stranding thousands, leaving at least 4 people were killed.

National Railways of Canada said it also plans to restore limited service on Wednesday.

“Repair work continues on CN’s network and we anticipate trains moving between Prince George and Vancouver this afternoon and the Kamloops-Vancouver corridor reopening tonight. with any unforeseen incidents,” spokesman Mathieu Gaudreault said Wednesday in an e-mail.

November is a key time for grain shipping – especially rapeseed – with most of Canada’s grain shipped via rail to BC ports.

Some can be diverted to Prince Rupert, BC, USA or Thunder Bay, but the window for the latter is mostly closed during winter ice, while rail cargo in general is difficult to divert in bulk.

Contract renewal penalties and storage fees – levied by a shipping line when shipping goods beyond a specified time at the terminal – pose a threat to farmers and grain upgraders trying to clear out the barns and bunkers full of trash.

The backlog of Prairie cereal could lose a lot of value if ships can’t get it to port before spring, when prices typically fall amid rising global supplies, according to the Western Grain Elevator Association. .

John Gradek, a transportation expert and former CP senior manager, says questions remain about short-term traffic capacity and long-term infrastructure resilience. .

“The tracks may open, but they still won’t carry you the mass that they did in the past,” he said of Canada’s two largest rail lines.

Corridors operated by CP and CN stretch across the Fraser River east of Vancouver. Others wriggle through avalanche-prone peaks protected by “snow sheds” – the tunnel-like crust that covers the track – or run along thin plateaus between rivers and mountains.

“You’ve got riverbed erosion due to the floods that create these voids – so you’re literally building on flood planes. You are building on risky territories when you do that,” said Gradek.

“It may be necessary to go back and look at the topography of those routes to understand what kind of infrastructure we can design or build to protect from landslides.”

This Canadian Press report was first published on November 24, 2021.

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