The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), Transport Canada (TC) and the Government of Quebec announced a partnership to provide an investment package to Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc. and Tshiuetin LP (collectively, Tshiuetin) to modernize the first Indigenous owned and operated railway in Canada.

The CIB will invest $50 million in the form of a long-term, fully repayable loan. The Government of Quebec will invest $5 million, repayable over the next two years. Transport Canada, which has supported Tshiuetin since 2005, has renewed its commitment to the company for the next three years under its Remote Passenger Rail Program, increasing its total annual subsidies of at least $12 million per year for operating and capital expenditures.

“There is a significant infrastructure gap facing Indigenous communities across Canada and this important funding is the perfect example of how the Canada Infrastructure Bank can work in partnership with Indigenous communities to provide them with safe infrastructure and to improve their quality of life,” said Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services.

I am thrilled to announce the advancement of several new projects for modernization of our operations, which represent Tshiuetin Rail Transportation’s commitment to strengthening economic collaboration and fostering mutually beneficial relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities,” said Tanis Peterson, Director General and Chief Operation Officer, Tshiuetin Rail Transportation. “With the financing and financial assistance from our partners announced today, we will expand our capacity to deliver on our mission to provide safe, reliable, and environmentally friendly services to our passengers and customers, while boosting our local economy through the creation of business and employment opportunities in the North.”

Tshiuetin has owned and operated a 217-kilometre regional railway and operated a 574-kilometre passenger rail service that, together, is the only readily accessible link connecting the three First Nation communities between Schefferville and Sept-Iles.

Modernization

The partnership includes significant track structure improvements, the upgrade of an existing worker lodging camp and the construction of a new one, as well as the construction of a new train station.

The project also involves the acquisition of new fuel-efficient locomotive and new passenger cars which will enhance users’ comfort.

The new trains will also be equipped with communication technology which will ultimately allow on-board internet access. Passengers will be able to stay connected to their work and loved ones while travelling.

The new trains will be safer thanks to an improved control system. The internet connection will allow instructions to be transmitted directly to the operations centre.

This is the first investment under the CIB’s Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative (ICII). Through the ICII, launched in March, the CIB has a target to invest $1 billion in infrastructure projects developed in partnership with and for the benefit of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

“The CIB is proud of a partnership to deliver economic and green benefits to the communities in the Northeastern Quebec and Western Labrador corridor,” said Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank. “Our investment is the first of many to come under the CIB’s Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative that contributes to improved infrastructure in Indigenous communities. The CIB is committed to collaborating with First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities to help deliver inclusive and sustainable infrastructure which will benefit generations to come.”

Featured image: To ensure the long-term economic and social development of their communities, the First Nations of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, Matimekush-Lac John and Kawawachikamach created Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc, to operate a railway service between Emeril Jct in Labrador and the Town of Schefferville in Quebec. (https://www.tshiuetin.net/)

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