Sun. Dec 5th, 2021

Trains that were stuck on their way to Vancouver when the flooding took place are waiting to run again

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(Bloomberg) – Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., a major transcontinental connection to the country’s largest port, has restarted operations in British Columbia after floods cut off the western province from the rest of the country.

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“The trains are starting to move through the region again,” CP spokeswoman Salem Woodrow said via email. “But the coming days will be critical as we work to bring the supply chain back into sync.”

One week after floods and mudslides forced evacuations, washed away parts of highways and damaged railroads, British Columbia is trying to restore transit connections and freight transport. Gasoline sales have been rationed in parts of the province, while critical exports such as timber and grain have been backed up, unable to reach the port of Vancouver.

Trains that were stuck on their way to Vancouver when the flooding took place are waiting to run again. The first trains of grain and fuel arrived Wednesday morning, according to the company. The number of idle rail cars has fallen by 15%, mainly due to the improvements CP has made in the Vancouver corridor, data from the Ag Transport Coalition shows.

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“They are making tremendous progress in repairing tracks that will connect us right through to the Alberta border and with the rest of Canada,” Transport Minister Rob Fleming told reporters Wednesday. “This would be a very important and welcome development for the movement of goods for our country.”

However, a fresh set of storms off the Pacific coast – a long stream of moisture known as an atmospheric river – threatens to hamper recovery.

British Columbia could receive as much as 300 millimeters (12 inches) of rain over the next week from a series of storms that will sweep across the region, said Paul Walker, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. and State College, Pennsylvania.

The heaviest rain begins Thursday, and then rain showers will continue until Monday, Walker said. Long-range models suggest that there will be even more rain after that. Each storm will increase the water flowing through the runoff system, increasing the risk of flooding. It also increases the risk of roads and bridges being washed out. It is likely that mudslides will occur, especially in areas burned by wildfires last summer.

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“They keep getting storm after storm,” Walker said. “Rivers and streams have not had much time to go down again.”

The only Vancouver area refinery owned by Parkland Corp. and is located in Burnaby, has put oil treatment on hold. The Trans Mountain pipeline, a major oil supplier to the plant, has been closed for more than a week.

Dozens of gas stations in British Columbia’s capital, Victoria, as well as Vancouver and hard-hit Chilliwack, had either run out of fuel or had limited fuel options as of Wednesday, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks gas station prices in the US and Canada. Trans Mountain has said it is “optimistic” that it can restore some capacity on the line by the end of the week.

Thirty locations across CP’s Thompson and Cascade subdivisions were damaged, including 20 with a “significant loss of infrastructure,” CP said. Hundreds of employees and contractors have worked to restore operations safely.

Although the resumption of rail traffic is positive, it is “likely fragile given the reduced capacity and the forecast for significant rainfall expected in the coming days,” the Ag Transport Coalition said.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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