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A deal has been reached to sell and repair a broken rail line that is the only land link for the northern Manitoba town of Churchill.

The community on Hudson Bay has been isolated since spring flooding in 2017 damaged the rail line and forced fuel and food prices to be flown in at skyrocketing costs.

The town says the deal includes the sale of the Hudson Bay Railway, the Port of Churchill and the Churchill Marine Tank Farm.

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In a statement, the town says the assets have been purchased by a consortium of northern communities, Toronto-based Fairfax and AGT Foods.

“This is great news,” Churchill Mayor Mike Spence said in an interview. “This is historic.”

It’s not clear how quickly repairs to the rail line can be done, but Spence said a crew is mobilizing and he’s hoping they will begin by mid-week.

He said they’re hoping to have the work done by fall.

“We’ll let the contractors get it done and we’ll monitor it, naturally,” said Spence. “We’re hoping this can get done in record time.”

Hudson Bay Railway has said the line has been losing money for years and the necessary repairs would cost tens of millions of dollars.

Spence said it’s the light at the end of the tunnel.

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“This community has been so solid, so strong and it’s been challenging, it’s been so difficult,” he said. “This afternoon, this evening, some of the folks I’ve just talked to are so happy, so pleased, and very excited about a bright future.”

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