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Blockade at Via Rail

Via Rail says a First Nations railroad blockade is affecting movement of its passenger trains between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal today.

The rail service says the blockade in the Napanee, Ont., area between Belleville and Kingston is affecting trains on the busy Toronto-to-Montreal and Toronto-to-Ottawa routes in both directions.

Trains between Ottawa and Montreal are operating according to the regular schedule for now.

Via Rail says train operations through the site of the blockade have been cancelled and it is using buses to get passengers through the area until further notice.

The blockade is part of recent protests in the Belleville area by a First Nations group calling for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Earlier this month, demonstrators temporarily stopped rail traffic in the area, leading CN to issue a stop order and Via Rail to cancel trips in the busy Toronto-to-Ottawa corridor.

Provincial police made several arrests and three men were charged, including protest spokesman Shawn Brant of Tyendinaga Territory, who faces two counts of mischief.

Via Rail says the blockade situation is expected to cause "substantial expenses" and will likely mean its employees will have to work long hours until it is resolved.

It says delays can be expected and customers with reservations who choose not to travel will receive a full refund.

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