Commuter train service to Mont-St-Hilaire cancelled and Via rail service resumption postponed due to Indigenous protest
MONTREAL -- Exo rail service toward Mont-St-Hilaire has been halted due to a protest on the tracks. The protest also prevented a partial resumption of Via Rail service between Montreal and Quebec City that was scheduled for Thursday.
About 100 protesters have blocked the railroad tracks near the Saint-Lambert station, blocking exo commuter rail service. The group was demonstrating in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, who oppose LNG Canada's Coastal GasLink pipeline project, which would cross into unceded territory.
The protesters have built up snowbanks on the CN track where it crosses St-Georges Street, near the intersection of Highways 116, 112 and 134. Longueuil police are at the scene and are asking people to avoid the area.
Trains 808 and 811 have been cancelled. It's so far unclear when rail service will resume. St-Georges Street will be close between St-Louis and St-Charles for an indeterminate period of time.
"I am a settler," one of the demonstrators, Hannah Morrow, said. "If I get arrested doing something like this, that's nothing compared with what other Indigenous people go through in this country all the time. The point that the government has let this get to is really worrying and really scary. It's kind of the least I can do to put myself on the line."
Many of the demonstrators brought supplies, including water, chairs and food. It was unclear how long they planned to block the tracks.
Via Rail chief executive Cynthia Garneau says the service interruption is "unprecedented" in Via's 42-year history. Almost 600 trains have been cancelled because of the blockades, affecting more than 111,000 passengers.
Police on Wednesday had to stop a driver who tried to breach the barrier in his vehicle. The driver, a man, in his 30s, was stopped by Longueuil police at 3:15 p.m. He had no link to the protest, police said. He was freed at the scene, but may face charges, police said.
Premier Francois Legault on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to set a deadline for the protesters to remove themselves from the tracks.