Protest causes Via Rail delays after demonstration backs up Highway 401 traffic

A small group of protesters supporting the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in B.C. slowed down rail and vehicle traffic in eastern Ontario on Wednesday.

Traffic slowed for several hours on Hwy. 401 from Cornwall to Napanee, while the protest caused delays for Via Rail service near Belleville for several hours.

Via Rail tweeted Wednesday afternoon that the protest may lead to delays outside their control. Passengers on social media reported being stopped on a train in Kingston.

Via Rail's website showed delays on trains along the Toronto-Montreal corridor. One passenger told CTV News Ottawa that they were on a stuck train in Belleville for about an hour.

Train service was back to normal late Wednesday afternoon.

Hi Alana, there is a possible protest on the tracks near Belleville , delays may occur outside of VIA Rail’s control. We apologize for any inconvenience. ^ND

— VIA Rail Canada (@VIA_Rail) November 24, 2021

A convoy left Cornwall around 8 a.m., travelling west toward Napanee. The demonstration is in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in B.C., who are fighting against the construction of a pipeline through their territory.

The convoy of eight vehicles passed through Brockville around 10 a.m., going about 40 kilometres per hour and flying flags.

"Mayhem traffic, from just south of Montreal to here," said Louis Ingribelli, describing the traffic on the road on Wednesday.

"It's frustrating. You want to be somewhere on time and you can't get there on time. Just want to carry on with my day."

A line of traffic about 20 kilometres long stretched behind the vehicles, who had a police escort.

"I'm definitely against the expansion of fuel as a primary source," said Robert Smith. "I agree with this protest as far as that goes."

Some commuters tell CTV News Ottawa the delays on the 401 are a small price to pay.

"Yes, I think it was worth it," said one commuter. "You have to attract attention to these things. You can't just let it go."

The OPP reported the convoy ended just after 3 p.m. 

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Josh Pringle

Traffic Advisory: Motorists in the #Cornwall & #SD&G Area - be prepared for a slowdown along #Highway401 Westbound. Travelling west from Cornwall to Napanee. Plan alternate route. Please be patient and exercise care. @OPP_COMM_ER

— OPP East Region (@OPP_ER) November 24, 2021

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