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The railways of Labrador and Quebec North Shore are not physically connected to the remainder of the Canadian network.
The present day railways of the area were opened in the latter half of the 20th century to serve the mining industry. Minerals, predominantly iron ore, were conveyed from the mines by rail to the coast for shipping. With one exception mentioned below, passenger services are confined to special trains for mining company workers.
Few of the railways have websites of their own. The links below may give some related information.
The first mineral railway in Quebec North Shore, the CFRR was opened in 1950 by Quebec Iron and Titanium for the transport of ilmenite (iron and titanium ore) from the Tio Mine to Havre Saint Pierre, a distance of 27 miles (43km). The entire operation is now owned by Rio Tinto Fer et Titane.
The most ambitious of the projects, QNSL was opened in 1954 by the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) for the transport of iron ore from Schefferville, Labrador to the port of Sept Îles, a distance of 359 miles (573km). In 1958, a 36 mile (58km) branch was added from Emeril Junction (also called Ross Bay Junction) to the iron ore deposits of the Wabush area around Labrador City; the distance from Labrador City to Sept Îles is 257 miles (414km).
By 1982 the Schefferville deposit was worked out. The IOC workforce was transferred to Labrador City, and iron ore traffic ceased on the line from Emeril Junction to Schefferville. The line did not close entirely, however: see Tshiuetin Rail Transport.
The line from the Labrador City area to Sept Îles remains open for iron ore traffic. IOC also operates the Carol Lake Railway, a fully automated, driverless, electric railway about 8 miles (13km) in length, between the main extraction site and the crusher plant.
Soon after IOC started operations in the Wabush area near Labrador City, Wabush Mines opened its own workings in the same area. In 1963, they opened the Wabush Railway, a short railway to connect the mine workings with the QNSL Railway. By an agreement with the IOC, the QNSL would carry Wabush Mines ore to the port of Sept Îles.
In 1965, Wabush Mines opened their own port at Pointe Noire, a little to the west of Sept Îles. A new short railway, the Arnaud Railway, (CFA) was built to connect the QNSL at Arnaud (a few km north of Sept Îles) with the new port.
Wabush Mines was intially a joint venture of US Steel Canada, Dofasco (later a subsidiary of Arcelor Mitta1) and Cleveland-Cliffs; from 2010 Cliffs Natural Resources (successor to Cleveland-Cliffs) became owners of the whole enterprise.
In 2010, Consolidated Thompson opened the Bloom Lake Railway to serve their Bloom Lake Mine, on the border of Quebec not far from ArcelorMittal’s operation at Mont Wright. The railway consisted of a new 19 mile (30km) section and the greater part of the Wabush Railway, carrying ore from the mine to the QNSL, for onward transport to the Arnaud Railway and Pointe Noire. In 2011, the mine and railway became part of Cliffs Natural Resources.
In 2014, Wabush Mines and Bloom Lake Mine ceased operations, along with their railways.
In 1960, the Quebec Cartier Mining Company opened the Cartier Railway (CFC) from the company's iron ore workings at Gagnon (near Lake Jeannine) to Port Cartier. In 1977, the line was extended to new workings at Mont Wright, near the border of Labrador, 260 miles (420km) from Port Cartier. Soon afterwards, the workings at Gagnon were closed. In 2008, the mines became part of ArcelorMittal. The railway is now operated by ArcelorMittal Infrastructure Canada.
When iron ore extraction ceased at Schefferville in 1982, the railway had already become an important lifeline for local communities. The Canadian government therefore paid IOC a subsidy to continue operation of passenger and freight services between Emeril Junction and Schefferville. This arrangement continued until 2005 when the line was sold for a nominal sum to a new company, Tshiuetin Rail Transportion.
TRT operates freight and passenger trains between Sept Îles and Schefferville, using the QNSL line between Sept Îles and Emeril Junction. The freight consists of fuel and general supplies for the remote communities. The trains also carry road vehicles; the communities are connected by road to Schefferville, but there is no highway connecting the area with the rest of the country.
In 2007, the company Labrador Iron Mines (LIM) was formed to resume iron ore extraction in the Schefferville area. A 3½ mile (6 km) railway was built, connecting with Tshiuetin Rail Transportion (TRT) at Schefferville. Trains were operated by Western Labrador Rail Services, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming. WLRS provided the motive power for LIM trains continuing over TRT and the Arnaud Railway to Pointe Noire. Services commenced in 2011, but ceased in 2014 with the closure of the mining operation. With this closure, all traffic on the Arnaud Railway ceased.
In 2012, Tata Steel Minerals Canada started work on a new DSO extraction project to the northwest of Schefferville, with an ore processing facility near Timmins. A new 13 mile (21 km) railway opened in 2014 to connect the processing facility with Tshiuetin Rail Transportion (TRT) at Schefferville, from where ore is transported to Sept Îles. The line is operated by the Knob Lake and Timmins Railway.