CN Orders “Progressive, Methodical” Shutdown of Eastern Canada Operations

Written by Andrew Corselli, Managing Editor
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A blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Feb. 13, 2020. Photo: Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

CN announced Feb. 13 that it “has been forced to initiate a disciplined and progressive shutdown of its operations in Eastern Canada. This includes stopping and safely securing all transcontinental trains across our Canadian network, and may imminently lead to temporary layoffs within the company’s Eastern Canadian operational staff.”

CN sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies for the illegal blockades in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia. “While the illegal blockades have come to an end in Manitoba and may be ending imminently in British Columbia, the orders of the court in Ontario have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored,” CN said, adding that it “has tried to adjust operations to serve customers in the face of these challenges, and is now left with the only remaining responsible option: progressively shutting down its Eastern Canadian operations until the illegal blockades end.”

“With more than 400 trains canceled during the past week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our main line, 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 protestors,” said CN President and CEO JJ Ruest. “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. Our shutdown will be progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely.

“Unfortunately, intercity VIA Rail service will be discontinued across our Canadian network. However, commuter rail services, such as Metrolinx and Exo, can keep operating so long as they can do so safely. I would like to thank our customers, international supply-chain partners and industry associations for their support to get this unprecedented ordeal resolved.”

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