Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) could have trains up and moving across B.C. as soon as Tuesday evening, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said during a emergency operations update Monday (Nov. 22).
“CP Rail is cautiously optimistic they could restart operations tomorrow evening, barring any unforeseen events,” Fleming said. “They are making tremendous progress on repairing track that will connect us right through to the Alberta border and with the rest of Canada.”
Fleming said that railway repair is a priority in the province right now, as about two-thirds of its containers come via trains. Officials have repeatedly said that the province has plenty of food and other essential supplies, but there has been panicked shopping in parts of B.C., leaving meat sections of some grocery stores reminiscent of the early days of pandemic shutdowns.
Highways across the province are each in different stages of disrepair, with the situation constantly changing. Fleming said that the stretch of Highway 1 between Cole Road and Yale Road in the Abbotsford and Chilliwack area remains closed due to flooding, with no estimated reopening time.
Further north along Highway 1 into the Fraser Canyon, Fleming said that Sunday night saw crews being able to open the route between the First Nations community of Boothroyd and Hope, thus allowing for essential travel into the Lower Mainland.
The segment of Highway 1 between Boston Bar and Spences Bridge remains closed.
“The temporary repairs to get traffic moving are also anticipated to take several weeks,” Fleming said of the area.
The Coquihalla, the main route that links the Lower Mainland to the Okanagan and Kootenays, is likely to be out of commission for some time.
“Work is getting underway on temporary repairs and construction access that will allow traffic to start moving,” Fleming said.
“While plans are also being prepared for permanent rebuilds at multiple sites, we don’t yet have clear timelines there beyond many weeks for the temporary work and many, many months for the permanent repairs.”
A route to the Okanagan had been cleared through Highway 7 and Highway 3, but a new Highway 3 closure between Hope and Princeton was reported shortly after the government update. Speaking later on Monday, Fleming said that the highway was shut due to “tension cracks.”