Thousands of anti-pipeline protesters in Belleville, Ont. on Thursday forced VIA Rail to suspend service between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa for the second day in a row.
Jean-Jacques Ruest, president of the Canadian National Railway, said in a statement the closure decision was taken after more than 400 train trips had been cancelled in the past week and protests had emerged in strategic locations in eastern Canada.
The closure of the lines, which operates rail freight in Canada, also means the suspension of all services of Via Rail, the country’s passenger transport company.
Via Rail had previously cancelled passenger services between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, the country’s main passenger corridor, over indigenous protests that have gone on for a week.
The main transport sector union in Canada, Teamsters Canada, said in a statement that the suspension of the CN rail service could lead to the temporary dismissal of 6,000 railway employees.
The protests, in support of the Wet’suwet’ en First Nation, come after six people were arrested near a work site in northern British Columbia where the RCMP had recently enforced an injunction against the Nation’s hereditary chiefs and their supporters.
VIA Rail goes on to say that none of the trains on these two routes will operate until the issue is resolved.
The Ontario Provincial Police said that they are monitoring the protests.
Last week, protesters in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation blocked the Canadian Pacific (CP) Rail tracks at Bartlett Avenue in Toronto’s west end.
After the first arrests, indigenous groups across the country began protests in solidarity with the indigenous group in British Columbia.
In Ontario, Mohawk Indians blocked the railroad in Belleville town, about 200 miles east of Toronto, which has now led to the suspension of all rail traffic in eastern Canada.
(With inputs from agency)