Mayors oppose Via Rail cuts, National Dream Renewed

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley
is organizing a municipal coalition
to fight the Via Rail cuts
in Ontario.
Mobility, mayors rising, G-19,  the North Main Line, Tour train bid for the ONR, CP Rail severs North America's original transcontinental rail line, Winnipeg to Rivers, Glenn Gould and more opposition to the proposed cuts in Via Rail service to the rest of Canada in this week's Transport Action Hotline.

Harold Nicholson, National Dream Renewed

"Mobility of its citizens is a hallmark of a modern nation. Mobility requires that citizens have transport options. For over 50% of the Canadian population Via Rail's "modernization" of rail passenger service means fewer choices.

Here in the Maritimes we do not have the luxury of an extensive bus service. In New Brunswick it is nearly impossible to make a round trip between any two locations in one day – and a number of areas have no bus service at all," Harold Nicholson wrote for the Daily Gleaner on July 20 2012

"For Via Rail and passenger rail service in Canada, there is no time to lose! If people raise their voices now. in the presence of politicians, federal and provincial, then maybe – just maybe – it is not too late for us to keep, and maybe – just maybe – expand our right to have the "more human way to travel" here in the Maritimes and across the rest of Canada," Transport Action Atlantic President Harold Nicholson says.

Nicholson is calling for donations to fund a series of town hall meetings about Via Rail Canada.  Please give to Transport Action Canada, Box 858, Station B, Ottawa K1P 5P9 by cheque, Visa or MasterCard, or via  (registered charity 119268571RR0001).  An official receipt for income tax purposes will be provided. 

Or mail a cheque to:
Transport Action Atlantic
Box 268, Dartmouth, NS B2Y 3Y3  
Registered charity 131583999RR0001
More info

Choice is our greatest freedom

On the cuts to rail service to Atlantic Canada Jay Underwood writes: "Choice is our greatest freedom and we just lost it, sacrificed to profit without so much as a remonstrance." Underwood's eloquent defences of passenger rail transportation was published in the July 21 edition of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald

VIA Rail agrees to discuss rail service options in Sarnia-Lambton

"Bev MacDougall wants VIA Rail to show her the numbers. The Sarnia City/County councillor is demanding that the railway be accountable to the people," Heather Wright wrote in Sarnia This Week on July 25. The newspaper also reported Petrolia council protests reduced rail service. "Via Rail has agreed to meet with local politicians sometime this fall to discuss rail service options in Sarnia-Lambton," the Sarnia Observer reported on July 24.

London Mayor Joe Fontana calls Via cuts ‘dumb’

Mayor Joe Fontana is steamed over a plan by Via Rail to curtail service from Toronto to London by way of Halton Hills, Guelph, Kitchener, Stratford and St. Marys. "This is absolutely mind-boggling dumb," he said Wednesday. "London is the fourth busiest Via station in the country." Fontana said the decision to cut service reminds him of a similar plan he fought in 1990 as London MP. And it will do nothing to help economic development, he said. Fontana told the investment and economic prosperity committee the move must be fought with tooth and nail," Chip Martin reported for the London Free Press on July 19

VIA cuts put future of Bathurst rail service in peril

"Cuts to VIA Rail service has people in the Bathurst area worried, including local politicians. Via Rail's Ocean service, which goes from Montreal to Halifax, will run only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays starting in the fall. The opposition was quick to raise concerns against the cuts. Bathurst Liberal MLA said that he brought up the issue in the last legislative session that ended June 13," Alex Vietinghoff wrote for the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on July 14. 

All Aboard Washington, Only one G20 member going the other way

“The national and/or provincial governments of most of the G20 countries have relatively greater ongoing commitments to intercity passenger rail than does the US, the exception being our neighbors to the north. The Obama Administration, plus several of our states, including Washington, are ahead of the Canadian Federal Government and provinces in passenger train investment," AAWA Executive Director Lloyd Flem said. "One hopes that all of North America will someday soon join the other G20s in the 21st Century rail renaissance that is a vital part of today’s Europe, East Asia, and even some emerging economies.” Jim Hamre reported for All Aboard Washington on June 27. 

Winnipeg to Rivers, Day-long rail tour organized to protest VIA cutbacks

"Rail Travel Tours has organized a six-hour round trip to Rivers to demonstrate the benefits of daily passenger service. VIA rail service is being reduced due to cutbacks. A one-day rail tour from Winnipeg to Rivers has been scheduled to protest cutbacks to VIA Rail, including a reduced schedule for the Canadian Line. Rail Travel Tours has organized a six-hour round trip on Aug. 23 "to show people what it is like to have daily passenger service," said Daryl Adair, company president. Seats are $50 for children ages two to 11 (infants are free), and $75 for adults, in a seat sale that ends Thursday. The trip includes a sandwich lunch and pizza dinner, plus a tour of Rivers and its history as a Commonwealth Air Training Base in the Second World War," the Winnipeg Free Press reported on July 18. 

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley is building a coalition of municipal leaders

"Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley is gathering a coalition of municipal leaders troubled by Via Rail service cuts in their communities. Those areas include Niagara, and St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan said he is sympathetic to a drive for alternatives to slashing back routes and train station staff. "I'm hoping they're still open to having some dialogue, that's why I'm supporting Mayor Bradley's position and initiative," McMullan said."We need to band together as mayors and municipalities," Don Fraser wrote for the St. Catherines Standard on July 18.

Via sets up self-fulfilling prophecy with cuts

"In 2011, the Ocean carried no less than 134,000 passengers, an increase from 127,000 in 2010. Overall passenger revenues and passenger miles were also increasing. Despite service cuts, little marketing and broken connections, the train was gaining riders. Imagine what would have been possible if Via had an actual service-improvement plan for trains beyond the Toronto-Montreal corridor," Carl Fowler wrote for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on July 12. 

Via Rail and Metrolinx on the North Main Line 

Transport Action's Mary Pappert reports "There was a quote in our Kitchener Waterloo Record from a VIA spokesperson, Mylene Belanger, indicating that the "revenue-cost performance was very poor on the trains (the 6:29 a.m. and 22:10 p.m.) we are going lose. I suggest that if the cost of travel along this VIA route compared in some rational way with the GO Train cost (much less that half) - and if the trains attained the speed and efficiency that is possible with track improvement ridership on the North Mail line would improve dramatically. 

Via Rail service cuts hurt Windsor

"As a frequent Via Rail rider back and forth, Windsor-Quebec corridor, I was appalled and saddened to learn that there will be cuts to this service," Marla Howard, wrote to The Windsor Star on Jul 18 2012.
Salish Express commuter train plan considered

"The train would begin at Nanaimo and pick up passengers on the way to Victoria. From there, the train would shuttle between Victoria and Langford, and return to Nanaimo at day’s end," Sharron Ho reported for the Sooke News Mirror on July 17. 

CP Rail severs North America's original transcontinental rail line

"The last ditch effort to save the Canadian Pacific Railway line between Pembroke and Mattawa has failed, green lighting the company’s plans to tear up the tracks along this crucial transportation corridor. Officials with Transport Pontiac-Renfrew, the not-for-profit organization seeking to acquire the Beachburg Subdivision of the former Canadian National line, confirmed Wednesday two rounds of negotiations ended last week with CP confirming it will decommission the rest of their line running through the Upper Ottawa Valley.Rails from the 150-kilometre stretch that makes up the Chalk River Subdivision will be shipped to switching yards in Alberta and Saskatchewan, CP told the group," Sean Chase reported for the Pembroke Daily Observer on July 19. 

Transport Pontiac-Renfrew,  Ottawa valley CN line

Meanwhile, across the Ottawa River, the Pontiac, Quebec-based TPR clarified that while the evolving TPR initiative and CP’s pending removal of the Pembroke to Mattawa line may seem to adversely affect TPR, it shouldn’t. Terry Gibeau, former Arnprior mayor and Transport Pontiac-Renfrew co-chairman said : “TPR is developing attractive strategies for customers within its own framework of operation, from Pembroke to Ottawa. 

If the Mattawa to Pembroke line stays in place and TPR acquires the Pembroke to Ottawa line, then an alternate national east-west-east rail connection around Toronto will be maintained.  At present both CP and CN have one line each across the country running south of Ottawa through the Winchester and Prescott areas respectively. 

However, Mr. Gibeau reiterates that CP must stop and rethink its rail-removal plan for Pembroke to Mattawa before another group determines rail must be re-laid resulting in a grossly unnecessary expenditure.  “Hindsight is 20-20 and now is the time for action while the immediate vision is abundantly clear.”

Algoma, Group of Seven plus Glenn Gould Train Event, Sept. 22

The Coalition of Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) is sponsoring the 5th annual Group of Seven Glenn Gould Train Event.  It begins on board the ACR passenger train as it pulls out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario on September 22nd. The 2012 Train Event marks the 94th anniversary of the Group of Seven painting up the Algoma Central Railway line. Workshops, presentations, live music, food and, of course, train rides will celebrate the anniversary. 2012 is also the 80th anniversary of the birth of Glenn Gould, the internationally renowned Canadian pianist who used Wawa as a secret retreat.

The Coalition of Algoma Passenger Trains sponsors the Train Event as a means to get passengers, albeit briefly, back on to the passenger train. Participants will have an enjoyable experience and hopefully become advocates for passenger train travel. They will gain appreciation for the historical significance of the Algoma Central Railway and the Algoma Highlands through which the train travels.

Tickets for the One Day Event, Searchmont Resort: $65 train and bus ride, lunch, workshop, music $55 lunch, workshop, music (own transportation)
Tickets for Two Day Event, Searchmont & Wawa: have been sold-out. There is a wait-list. Tickets can be obtained at the Art Gallery of Algoma or the Box Office in the Station Mall

For more information visit or call Carly Breckenridge at (705) 949-2301 ext. 4236

TGR Rail Canada bidding for ONR

"A Toronto-based rail company says it will guarantee jobs for five years and replace the Northlander passenger train if it's successful in purchasing the Ontario Northland Railway. TGR Rail Canada, which offers speciality excursions and support services on a contract basis mainly in southwestern Ontario, says it has been actively pursuing the purchase of the ONR since shortly after the province announced plans to sell the railway in March as part of its plan to divest the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. TGR board chairman Ron Dancey said  the company's bid includes a five-year job guarantee for ONR workers, a commitment to maintain the North Bay head office, a pledge to maintain maintenance and refurbishment shops and a new specialty passenger service to replace the Northlander.," Gord Young reported for the North Bay Nugget on July 25.

Acadian Lines service stalled in Charlotte County, NB

"Michael Perry, a St. Andrews resident and a board member of Transport Action Atlantic  said he does not believe Acadian is the solution to the area's transportation woes. "What we need to do is for the Department of Transportation to get a grip on the situation and consider that public transport throughout the province is its responsibility rather than just building roads, and begin to look at local operators providing service from the regional areas into the various regional centres, ” CBC News reported on July 26.

Plain Language Guide to VIA Cuts, Transport Action Atlantic

Transport Action Ontario Newsletter: May-June

Transport Action Canada
Hotline 1174, July 26, 2012
(formerly Transport 2000 / anciennement Transport 2000 Canada)
(613) 594-3290


Aug. 23,  Winnipeg, Rail Travel Tours, Ride the rails to protest the Via Rail cuts

25 août, Montréal, Congrès d’orientation stratégique de Transport 2000 

Aug. 25-26, Charny, FESTIRAIL, TRAQ

Sept. 22-23 Sault Ste. Marie, Coalition of Algoma Passenger, Train Event

Oct. 15-16, Montréal, 2012 Canadian Rail Summit 2012 RAC