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CN Rail warns of closures if blockades remain

TORONTO — Canadian National Railway Co. said Tuesday it will be forced to close significant parts of its Canadian network unless protest blockades impeding its rail lines are removed.

CN said 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 said 157 passenger trains have also been cancelled, affecting 24,500 travelers on routes between Montreal and Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto.

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

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 said 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.”

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