UPDATE: VIA passenger service to resume this week for Southwestern Ontario

(BlackburnNews.com file photo)

VIA Rail has announced that it will restore its passenger service for Southwestern Ontario this week, after anti-pipeline blockades forced the shutdown of rail lines across the county.

VIA Rail announced early Tuesday evening that all trains running between Toronto-London-Windsor, Toronto-Sarnia, and Toronto-Niagara will resume service beginning Thursday morning.  In addition, partial service will resume with trains running between Québec City-Montréal-Ottawa during weekdays, and full service will be offered during weekends. Two cross country lines are continuing to operate — Sudbury and White River, as well as Churchill and The Pas in Manitoba.

The passenger rail carrier announced last week it would be suspending service indefinitely across the country because of anti-pipeline blockades on lines in Ontario and British Columbia. The protests are being held in solidarity with Indigenous hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline project.

As of Tuesday, a total of 532 trains have been cancelled because of the blockades and more than 103,000 passengers have been affected, VIA said in a statement.

Passengers with a ticket for train service before Thursday morning are encouraged to visit VIA Rail’s website where they can get information on a full refund with no service charges.

“We remain hopeful for an end to the situation as soon as possible, and encourage all relevant parties to continue their efforts towards a peaceful resolution,” read a statement on VIA’s website. “We thank our passengers for their continued patience and understanding.”

-With files from Adelle Loiselle