So it was that the first train passed the two-week blockade of the nation’s rail network. I was on the road myself, my Via Rail train cancelled, as Via Rail gently put it, “following an advisory from the infrastructure owner that they are unable to support our operations across their network.” Was it an earthquake? A labour dispute? A sudden decision to get out of the infrastructure support business?
Hard to tell what the mysterious cause of the cancellation was, just as so much reporting on the blockades seemed eager to avoid describing just exactly what was going on. So driving back to Kingston from Toronto rather than taking the train, I thought I would stop off and have a look for myself.
On the railway overpass on 49, I arrived in time for the first CN freight train to pass in weeks. It cruised slowly through, locomotive number 2279, offering only a solitary sounding of the horn as it passed the police and protesters by. The police on the north side were standing in place, flashlights at the ready, to see what was going on. On the south side the scene was rather more active, with a few men scurrying about. As the train passed, one man lit a wooden pallet aflame just a few metres from the tracks. I doubt the officers on the other side could see it, but the officers on the overpass certainly got some low quality video of it, having deployed their phones.
After train 2279 went on its way, the Mohawks threw a flaming tire on the tracks itself. That brought about a dozen OPP vehicles streaming onto the site from the north side, and dozens of officers assembled to look earnestly at the fire set upon the tracks. After a few moments of strategizing with the newly arrived reinforcements, a lone officer stepped boldly forward, approaching the flaming southern rails, and took decisive action: “Anyone over there want to talk?”
Update: rail blockade setup in Toronto, Milton GO train service suspended