Rail traffic causing sailing and ferry delays in Prince Rupert

The number and size of trains making their way around Prince Rupert has been creating some delays for boat traffic in the area.

The number and size of trains making their way around Prince Rupert has been creating some delays for boat traffic in the area.

The issue comes when trains stop on the track crossing the road just before the dock areas on the west end of town, and extends to both BC Ferries and the Digby Island ferry.

We’re getting blocked in quite regularly, it almost seems to be timed just as we come back from the airport. It happens at least once per day on average, but it can be two to three times per day…The longest we’ve sat is 40 minutes, but the average is 10 to 15 minutes of being delayed,” said Craig Nicholls of the Digby Island ferry.

There have been two or three incidents over the past month or so where movement of trains has caused BC Ferries minor delays, about 20 minutes. We work together with CN and Maher Terminals to try to avoid any delays…In order to avoid customer inconvenience we have delayed departures so to ensure all customers can make their sailings,” said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall.

The issue was brought up at the recent Pinnacle Pellet terminal open house by opponents of the proposed Westview Terminal location due to the extra train traffic the facility would bring past the docks. The situation is further complicated by the increase in rail traffic expected with the start-up of phase II of Fairview Terminal, with some expecting four times as much rail traffic.

Rick Reed, manager of the Prince Rupert Airport, says he has personally been affected by the delays caused by rail traffic when it comes to catching the ferry to Digby Island and would like to see a resolution.

“With the increase in business at the ports, I sent a letter to [city manager] Gord Howie saying this should be talked about ,” he said.

For its part, CN Rail says it is aware of the issue and is working with stakeholders to find a solution.

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