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Canada

Quebecers scramble to find alternatives as rail travel in eastern Canada shuts down over blockades

Quebecers across the province are facing train cancellations on commuter rail lines Friday morning as blockades in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation hereditary chiefs in British Columbia continue.

Thousands of commuters on Montreal’s south shore are relying on a shuttle bus service as protests in Kahnawake stretch into their fifth day. Since Monday, protesters have blocked the tracks of exo’s Candiac line.

“Our main goal is to assure service for our commuters on the Candiac train line,” said exo spokesperson Catherine Maurice. “We hope that we will resume the train service as soon as possible.

“We’re doing all that we can in the perspective that we’re not the owners of the track.”

Mohawks protesting in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation hereditary chiefs have told Global News they planned to stay for as long it takes in order to protect the land and future generations.

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READ MORE: Via Rail cancels most trains across the country as CN shuts down rails in eastern Canada

Travellers are also scrambling after Canadian National Railway shut down its entire railway network in eastern Canada and Via Rail cancelled most of its services in the area.

The shutdown, which was announced on Thursday by the two companies, has left train passengers stranded and trying to find other options. At Montreal’s Central Station, the majority of Via Rail trains have been cancelled.

Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel arrived in Toronto on Thursday evening to discuss the situation with his other provincial counterparts.

“I remain deeply concerned about the ongoing blockades and the impact on CN and Via Rail service,” he said on social media.

READ MORE: Quebec, Ottawa form committee to address rail line blockades

Over the past week, protests in support of those who oppose a Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia have caused rail disruptions across Canada.

The blockades come after the RCMP arrested anti-pipeline demonstrators following a B.C. Supreme Court injunction that required workers be given unobstructed access to a worksite for the project.

Quebec Premier François Legault has repeatedly called on the federal government to intervene. He argues the entire country is dealing with the consequences of commuter rail shutdowns.

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He has also expressed concerns that the province will not be able to receive propane if the blockades continue.

— With files from Global News’ Maryam Shah and Brayden Jagger Haines and the Canadian Press

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