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Keewatin Railroad Upgraded

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The connection of the far-flung, 1,478-member Indian reserve of Pukatawagan to the rest of Manitoba has been strengthened by recently completed renovations on the First Nation–owned Keewatin Railway, the Canadian government announced as 2010 came to a close.

A new passenger station and loading ramp will now enhance the journeys of travelers to and from Pukatawagan, Manitoba, thanks to $700,000 in funding under Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

The newly refurbished line runs between Pukatawagan and La Pas, about 630 kilometers northwest of Manitoba, near the Saskatchewan border. In addition the line is working on a $1.2-million maintenance shop to be completed by March 31, said Anthony Mayham, chief executive officer of Keewatin.

This is just one set of upgrades that Keewatin has undertaken on its rail services, Canada Transport noted. Two new rail cars plus track maintenance and repair have all been on the to-do list. The total Economic Action Plan funding of $3.8 million for Keewatin will be augmented by up to $1.6 million in new capital funding in 2011, the transport ministry said. The company will use it for track surfacing work, bridge repairs and facility improvements.

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The federal funds are part of the transport ministry’s Regional and Remote Passenger Rail Services Class Contribution Program and stem from the 2010 budget allowance of $32.2 million over two years for the Regional and Remote Passenger Rail Services Class Contribution Program, the transport ministry said.

Keewatin Railway Company has been jointly owned by the Mathias Colomb Indian Band, the Tataskweyak Cree Nation and the War Lake First Nation since 2006, when the three acquired the line via an asset purchase agreement with the Hudson Bay Railway Company, according to Canada’s Ministry of Transport. It is the second Native Canadian–owned railway. The other one is Tshiuetin Rail Transportation, in northern Quebec.