Government of Canada continues funding for northern Manitoba Passenger Rail Service



    OTTAWA, Aug. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Keewatin Railway Company will proceed with
capital improvements to the passenger rail service between The Pas and
Pukatawagan, Manitoba, thanks to an $2.8 million investment by the Government
of Canada announced today by the Honourable Vic Toews, President of the
Treasury Board, on behalf of the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
    The federal investment will fund railway track rehabilitation, bridge
re-decking and the purchase of railway equipment.
    "Today's announcement supports commitments made by the Government of
Canada towards the well-being of regional and rural communities," said
Minister Toews. "Rail service improvements also support economic activities in
the lumber, hydro-electric, prospecting, trapping and fishing sectors."
    "Our government is proud to continue its support for this important
service for people living and traveling to and from these remote communities,"
said Minister Cannon. "This investment will allow Keewatin Railway Company to
upgrade the rail line to better support safe and effective rail services."
    Keewatin Railway Company - jointly owned by three Manitoba First Nations
(War Lake First Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation and Mathias Colomb Cree
Nation) - operates passenger rail and freight service between The Pas and
Pukatawagan in northern Manitoba. It became one of the first First Nations
companies to own and operate a railway in Canada when it acquired, in April
2006, the Sherridon Subdivision through an asset purchase agreement with the
Hudson Bay Railway Company (HBR). In 2007, Keewatin transported
5,437 passengers and it currently employs 10 full-time and 16 seasonal
employees, mostly from First Nations.
    "Keewatin Railway Company welcomes this announcement by the Government of
Canada and appreciates the ongoing support it has received since the
acquisition of the line from Hudson Bay Railway Company," said Anthony Mayham,
Chief Financial Officer of Keewatin Railway Company. "With this funding,
Keewatin Railway Company will be able to control all the capital and
operational track maintenance by acquiring equipment to do this work."
    While there is limited air and winter road service to Pukatawagan, most
of the travel to the reserve is by rail. Trains also carry essential food,
heating and building supplies, and household goods to the area, and support
forestry, hunting and fishing activities.
    Since 2005, the Government of Canada has demonstrated its commitment to
this rail service by providing over $8 million in start-up and capital funding
to Keewatin Railway Company. The funding has been invested in the acquisition
of the rail line, the recruitment and training of employees, the purchase of
locomotives, railway equipment and vehicles, as well as infrastructure
upgrades to the rail line.
    Federal funding comes from Transport Canada's Regional and Remote
Passenger Rail Services Class Contribution Program. The program ensures that
safe, reliable, viable and sustainable passenger rail services are provided to
certain areas of the country where these services are either the only means of
surface transportation for remote communities, or an alternative means of
transportation for rural communities. These services also support economic
activities in the lumber, mining, recreation and tourism sectors and provide
an essential lifeline for isolated communities.




For further information:

For further information: Jean-Maurice Duplessis, Press Secretary, Office
of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613)
991-0700; Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Anthony
Mayham, Chief Financial Officer, Keewatin Railway Company, (204) 794-6395;
Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news releases and
speeches at www.tc.gc.ca/e-news and keep up to date on the latest from
Transport Canada. This news release may be made available in alternative
formats for persons with visual disabilities.


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