Via Rail and Exo announce re-opening of train lines starting Monday

People protest at a rail blockade in St-Lambert, south of Montreal, Que. on Thursday, February 20, 2020 in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Via Rail and Exo announced service is scheduled to resume on the Mont-Saint-Hilare and Quebec-Montreal lines following an injunction that forced anti-colonialism and pipeline protesters to dismantle their blockade.

A spokesperson for Exo told Global News train service will resume on Monday at 5:45 a.m., “unless there is another event beyond our control.”

“Before being able to resume train service on the Exo Mont-Saint-Hilaire line, several actions will need to be taken, including track inspection, restarting of locomotives and safety tests on trains,” they said.

Via Rail announced the scheduled re-opening of its Quebec-Montreal line as of Monday, on Twitter Friday night.

In a statement, the passenger rail transport company announced two trains from Ottawa to Québec City will resume service on Sunday as well.

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“VIA Rail is reaching out directly to passengers with reservations to update them on the latest developments. All other passengers are encouraged to visit our website for more information,” the statement indicated.

“As we continue to monitor the evolution of events across the country, the situation remains the same regarding other VIA Rail services.”

Since Wednesday, a group of protesters known at MTL Wet’suwet’en Solidarity had a blockade set up, forcing Exo, the regional transit authority for trains, to cancel its service.

As a result, Via Rail was also forced to suspended service on its corridor between Montreal and Quebec City.

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Friday night, demonstrators left their Saint-Lambert blockade following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call for an end to the rail blockades across Canada.

After being served with an injunction on Thursday, protesters continued to obstruct the tracks on Friday as local police officers blocked off the surrounding area to traffic.

Protesters have rallied in solidarity with select Indigenous peoples of Wet’suwet’en, who ask that police officers leave the territory where protests continue against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in B.C.

Nationwide blockades began two weeks ago after the RCMP arrested protesters following an injunction in December that required workers be given unobstructed access to the worksite.

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Mohawks protesting in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs told Global News last week they planned to stay for as long it takes in order to protect the land and future generations.

In Kahnawake, an ongoing blockade has lasted nearly two weeks and forced the cancellation of the Candiac train line since Feb. 10. However, Quebec Premier François Legault said on Thursday it is difficult to dismantle a blockade on the Mohawk territory since it has its own police force.

According to Exo, there are no plans to re-open the Candiac train line as the situation has yet to change.

On Saturday, Wet’suwet’en heriditary chiefs were scheduled to meet with chiefs in Kanawake, both traditional and elected, to discuss the situation.

— With files from Global’s Alessia Simona Maratta and Kalina Laframboise

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