A protest over a pipeline is shutting down train service across much of Canada

Demonstrators stand near railway tracks during a protest near Belleville, Ontario, on Thursday.

(CNN)Protesters blocking Canadian railways have shut down large portions of the nation's passenger and freight train service this week, knocking out a travel option for thousands and spurring a business group to warn the cross-country flow of food and other goods will slow.

The protests started last week when police started arresting members of an indigenous group that was blocking a road to a construction site for the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in British Columbia, CNN network partner CTV reported.
Indigenous groups and allies blocked railways and government buildings around the country in solidarity with the British Columbia group. Some rail blockades have ended, but others remain, including near Belleville, Ontario.
    Because of the remaining blockades:
      • Canadian National Railway (CN) on Thursday said it's started to progressively shut down its eastern freight network, essentially east of Toronto.
      • Passenger service VIA Rail, which largely uses CN railways, said Thursday it has suspended most of its runs across the country until further notice, after cancellations on a smaller scale earlier in the week.
      That will have thousands of people looking for alternative transportation daily, as VIA Rail said it served 5 million passengers last year.
        "I got stuck here, basically," Amanda Viney, who was in Montreal on Thursday for a business trip, told CNN network partner CBC. "Now I'm going to attempt to catch a Greyhound back to Ottawa like everyone else."
        Police officers stand on a road after clearing the intersection of protesters that were blocking an entrance to a port Wednesday in Vancouver, British Columbia. The demonstration expressed solidarity with Wet'suwet'en protesters who were arrested last week.
        Near Belleville, a two-and-a-half-hour drive northeast of Toronto, activists with the Tyendinaga Mohawk group have placed vehicles near the tracks -- not across them, but too close for trains to safely pass, CBC reported.
        "This particular movement going across the nation around is so very important for the next generation," Pauline Maracle, who has been cooking for the camped-out protesters for a week, told CBC. "At the end of the day, it's the people for the people."
        The initial pipeline protest in northern British Columbia involved the Wet'suwet'en Nation indigenous group, which opposes Coastal GasLink's plans to build a natural gas pipeline through their territory, CTV reported.

        Freight shutdown will restrict supplies of food and other materials, business group warns

        CN and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce have called on the government to remove the rail blockades.
        The rail company obtained a court injunction last week to end the Mohawk demonstration near Belleville, CBC reported, but police so far have not dispersed them.