The Churchill Route was opened to world grain markets in September 1931. The first rail shipment consisted of approximately 500,000 bushels of Saskatchewan wheat hauled over the Hudson Bay Railway. The route promised improved economic conditions throughout Saskatchewan and western Canada through lower shipping costs and better access to markets in northern Europe and Latin America. The Port of Churchill is located at the mouth of the Churchill River on the western shore of Hudson Bay. It is Canada’s only northern seaport, and the most northern point reached by regularly scheduled passenger train service on the North American continent (excluding the isolated railroads of Alaska); it is also the northern terminus of the Hudson Bay Railway, which extends 816 km from The Pas to Churchill, Manitoba. Distances from many grain delivery points in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to this seaport are shorter than delivery to Vancouver, Prince Rupert, or Thunder Bay. The port of Churchill not only provides an economical alternative for prairie producers, it also serves as a supply terminal for arctic communities. However, it has an operating season of only thirteen weeks—which has given rise to a debate about its efficiency. The volume of traffic going through the port is affected by two factors: only boxcars may be used on the line because of weight restrictions; and transportation trends are shifting from European to Asian markets, which are better served from ports in British Columbia.