Government of Canada continues funding for northern Quebec passenger rail service

    OTTAWA, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The Government of Canada is providing
Tshiuetin Rail Transportation with up to $12 million in operating funding to
continue passenger rail service between Sept-Iles and Schefferville, Quebec,
until December 30, 2009, the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, announced today.
    Rail is the only surface transportation mode available to Schefferville
and is used by First Nations people in the area to travel to their traditional
hunting, fishing and trapping territories on a year-round basis, and for
community re-supply.
    "It is important to this government that residents of Schefferville and
surrounding areas have reliable rail services," said Minister Cannon. "People
in these remote communities depend upon such services for their everyday
needs, as well as for travel through the region or to the rest of the
    Tshiuetin Rail Transportation is owned jointly by the communities of
Matimekush/Lac John and Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, as well as the
Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach. Tshiuetin was the first First Nations
company to own and operate a railway in Canada when it acquired the Menihek
subdivision from the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway in December 2005
through an asset purchase agreement with the Iron Ore Company of Canada. In
2007, Tshiuetin transported 15,000 passengers.
    "The three First Nations are grateful to the Government of Canada for
this funding to Tshiuetin Railway, as it will allow us to continue the
essential rail transportation service link between Sept-Iles and
Schefferville," said Richard Bell, general manager and chief operating officer
of Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc. "It also provides career development for
the First Nation's people in the railway industry."
    Since 2004, the Government of Canada has demonstrated its commitment to
the Tshiuetin passenger rail service by providing significant start-up,
operating and capital funding. The funding has been invested in:

    - the recruitment and training of employees;
    - the purchase of equipment, vehicles, locomotives and rolling stock;
    - renovations to the train station in Schefferville;
    - the construction of a diesel locomotive repair shop in Schefferville;
    - a railway maintenance-of-way camp in Esker, Newfoundland and Labrador;
    - a passenger shelter (with washroom facilities and heat and water
      services) in Emeril, Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Prior to the transfer of the rail line to Tshiuetin, the Government of
Canada also provided funding to Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway to
ensure the continued operation of the service.

    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 mining exploration, recreation and tourism sectors and
provide an essential lifeline for isolated communities.

For further information:

For further information: Karine White, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613) 991-0700;
Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Richard Bell,
General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, Tshiuetin Rail Transportation
Inc., Sept-Iles, (418) 960-0982; Transport Canada is online at
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