GO train service cancelled west of Toronto due to protestors blocking railway
Commuters heading into or out of Toronto by train this morning are advised to leave themselves plenty of extra time in case of delays caused by a rail blockade just west of the city's downtown core.
Protestors are currently spread out across the tracks between Hamilton and Aldershot in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, members of which have been rallying to protect their ancestral lands from a $6 billion Coastal Gaslink pipeline project in British Columbia.
Consisting of small campfires and demonstrators holding large signs, the rail blockade was erected around 5 p.m. on Monday evening in response to the OPP's dismantling of another blockade by members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk First Nation near Belleville, Ontario.
Protestors have now closed the CN railway tracks between Burlington & Hamilton in solidarity with the #WetsuwetenStong. Fires have been set on the eastbound and westbound lines. #HamOnt https://t.co/aJoVETjLaI pic.twitter.com/Tv4dXi5Z6B— Andrew Collins (@ACollinsPhoto) February 25, 2020
"The tracks between Aldershot and Hamilton GO are shut down until further notice because of a group of people near the tracks," announced the GO Transit Lakeshore West train Twitter account just after 6 p.m. last night.
"With safety top of mind, we can only run GO trains between Aldershot and Union Station."
Train service between Union Station, Niagara Falls and the West Harbour GO station in Hamilton remain shut down as of Tuesday morning, according to Metrolinx.
Shuttle buses are currently running from Hamilton and Niagara/St. Catharines to the Aldershot and Burlington GO stations, respectively.
GO Train service in Hamilton, Aldershot and Niagara is disrupted this morning as demonstrators and supporters continue to block one of the main rail lines in #HamOnt. Blockade also has Hwy 6 in Caledonia shut down #HamOnt https://t.co/raXcoEQLvU pic.twitter.com/1y7lbwaOET— Hamilton Spectator (@TheSpec) February 25, 2020
Anyone coming in from the west should be wary, however, as this shutdown is causing problems across the entire line.
A notice posted to the GO Transit website this morning explains that service along the rest of Lakeshore West will be "modified" as a result of an "ongoing police investigation along the tracks between Aldershot GO and Hamilton GO."
"We are working hard to get you to where you need to go," the notice reads. "However, you may experience additional crowding due to the modified service."
There is no police investigation. Media says there are protesters blocking the tracks.— Wei Fung (@austrianinves) February 25, 2020
Police have not yet moved into to clear the tracks, as they have in other parts of the country, but the protesters have made it clear that they won't be moving on their own.
"Our intention is to stay here indefinitely and we are calling on others to join us," reads a message posted to the Wet'suwet'en Strong: Hamilton in Solidarity Facebook page on Monday evening.
An update posted just before 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning states that the group was served — and promptly burned — an injunction from CN Rail.
"We're shutting down an effective junction that handles all rail traffic in and out of Hamiton. For each day we shut it down, it takes them twice that or more to recover!" reads the update.
“We’re not leaving as long as it’s possible.” An update from the group that’s set up a blockade on the CN tracks in Hamilton. This is the view as well from a bridge we’re on. #onpoli #cdnpoli #blockades #Wetsuweten https://t.co/jzxjfBN0pT pic.twitter.com/DUFHjh1bK1— Lucas Meyer (@meyer_lucas) February 25, 2020
The Hamilton railway blockade is just the latest in a long line of demonstrations spurred by the heavy-handed RCMP enforcement of an injunction against Indigenous demonstrators in B.C. earlier this month.
Protests in support of the Wet'suwet'en people have caused disruptions in both passenger and freight rail transport across Canada over the past few weeks, with CN and Via being forced at one point to close down significant portions of their operations.
"Remember why we're out here; the violence the state has perpetrated towards Indigenous land defenders and their supporters, the forced removal and criminalization of indigenous people from their lands," reads a message posted by organizers of the Wet'suwet'en Strong Hamilton protest.
"It's time to stop this, and appealing to government, writing letters, holding rallies, and even exhausting legal means has not and is not working, so disruption is what we MUST turn to."
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