(Reuters) - Locomotive engineers and conductors at Canadian Pacific Railway went on strike early on Wednesday after failing to reach a contract agreement, a union body said, shutting down freight operations on Canada's second-biggest railroad.
The union and CP Rail said talks will resume in the morning.
UPDATE: Canada expected to legislate striking rail employees back to work
"We will not walk away from the negotiation table," said Doug Finnson of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents the engineers and conductors at CP Rail.
The stoppage means that shippers in Canada, including farmers, miners and retailers, will have to find other means to move their goods or will find them stranded.
"In addition to customer and supply chain impacts, the suspension of CP's freight service will also impact many of the connecting railways with whom we do business," a CP spokesman said in a statement.
Commuter service continues to operate without disruption in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, despite the strike, the spokesman said.
About 4,800 engineers, conductors and traffic controllers at CP, nearly one-third of its workforce, walked off the job after last-ditch talks on Tuesday did not result in a new labour contract.
Employees have been without a contract since the end of last year and have been in talks with CP since October 2011.
The strike comes at a difficult time for CP. Its chief executive quit on Thursday in the face of a boardroom coup led by CP's biggest shareholder, who is demanding that the railway improve its operating performance, currently the worst in the industry.