West Coast Express won't be running Friday morning because of protest on tracks

The shut down, which started Thursday, is continuing through the morning commute, TransLink says, affecting the route from Mission, through Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam to Vancouver

Commuters who usually catch the West Coast Express will have to find another way to get to work Friday morning.

That's because prostesters are blocking the Canadian Pacific tracks on the Pitt River Rail Bridge, preventing the movement of trains.

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See Tweets from Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West and Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the bottom of the story.

The protest can be seen by traffic on the Lougheed Highway and Mary Hill Bypass near the Pitt River Bridge, where protesters have draped signs and were prepared to camp.

A group calling itself the Red Braid Allliance for Decolonial Socialism said it is taking part in a nation-wide demonstration in support of the Wet'suwet'en and their fight to stop a pipeline from being built on their traditional territories.

Protest banner
A protester with a banner at the CP Raiil blockade in Port Coquitlam Thursday. - Stefan Labbé

Thursday, The Tri-City News spoke to some of the protestors who said they were shutting down the route because it was an important rail link. For more on the blockade, read here.

The disruption means safety and maintenance checks can't be performed, according to TransLink, and is preventing the morning train to Vancouver.

To help assist customers during the morning commute, a bus bridge will be set up between Mission and Coquitlam Central Station. 

However, buses are expected to be busier than normal, TransLink states in a press release.

It's not known if the commuter service will be running Friday afternoon as the protesters in Port Coquitlam have said they have no plans to end the blockade.

Protest
Protesters set up a blockade on CP Rail tracks in Port Coquitlam on Thursday afternoon. - Stefan Labbé

To seek out other modes of travel, commuters are should use the Trip Planner online or all the customer information desk at 604-953-3333 for trip planning advice.

For further updates, check back here at www.tricitynews.com, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter channels.

Concern about the 11,000 passengers who use the commuter rail service and get on and off at eight stations between Mission and Vancouver has prompted concerns from Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth and Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West.

As news of the blockade spread, the two expressed their displeasure in the protest camp that has blocked national rail service and affected transit riders.

 

 

Meanwhile, the B.C. government and indigenous leaders have indicated an interest to meet about concerns.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan spoke Thursday about the need to work together to resolve the pipeline tensions that have resulted in solidarity blockades in Ontario, Manitoba and B.C.

 

Indigenous leaders in B.C.'s northeast have invited federal and B.C. politicians to meetings to find solutions.

The blockades began last week after RCMP enforced an injunction against Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who are blocking construction of the Coastal Gas Link natural gas pipelilne. The project has the support of 20 elected band councils, who have signed benefit agreements with Coastal Gas Link.

Read more about the potential for meetings here.

- with files from Canadian Press

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