Via Rail cuts protested, Le Canada continue d’asphyxier Via

Harry Gow,
Founding President,
Transport Action
Stories on: On a tous besoin d'un train, Sarnia Mayor, People are prisoners in their own communities, St. Mary's message to VIA Rail decision-makers, Regular train service between Calgary and Edmonton, Gaspé protests of 2009 worked, Restigouche County, Une gifle au transport collectif, Eyjafjallajökull et plus in today's Transport Action Hotline. 

Passenger rail supporters are making voices heard 

"Government and industry is closely watching reaction to Via Rail Canada's cuts. Supporters of passenger rail need to make more noise and news. Get more letters going, start personal social media campaigns and talk it up," Harry Gow the founder of Transport Action says. Transport Action is seeking funding for a series of public participation events across the country. "The process is gathering steam," Gow says.

Harry Gow, Rail Passenger Review 

"There is a major government study on VIA Rail "rationalization". It appears the "Rail Passenger Review" will go to cabinet shortly, with no public consultation. The Review is not public but was reportedly included in the Access to Information material obtained earlier this year by Ken Rubin and referenced in an Apr. 23 Globe and Mail report," Harry Gow says.

"There is evidence that lobbying was aimed at eliminating the Canadian to improve things for a private operator. There is now information that the lobbying also targetted the Ocean also in order to make  space for a private sector operator in the Montréal-Halifax tour train.

"To make things worse, the Gaspé train and the Vancouver Island VIA  train are said to be at the top of the hit-list at Transport Canada's Rail Policy Group," Harry Gow reports.

Harold Nicholson, Le Canada continue d’asphyxier Via

"Le transporteur ferroviaire Via Rail a annoncé hier des réductions de service qui se traduiront par l’abolition de 200 postes syndiqués à temps plein, soit 9 % de sa main-d’oeuvre totale," Sylvain Larocque a écrit pour la Presse canadienne a rapporté le27 juin.

"Le président de Transport Action Atlantic, Harold Nicholson, a également dénoncé les compressions. « Pendant que les autres pays du G20 investissent de façon intelligente et massive dans leurs services ferroviaires, le Canada continue d’asphyxier Via », a-t-il affirmé," la Presse canadienne a rapporté.

On a tous besoin d'un train

"Encore une mauvaise nouvelle pour le nord et l'est de la province! … Je ne sais pas si notre représentant à Ottawa, Bernard Valcourt, peut faire quelque chose pour nous dans ce dossier. Il devrait défendre nos intérêts, semble-t-il, auprès du gouvernement Harper. C'est justement pourquoi nous avons voté pour lui il y a un an environ," Marcel Arseneau a écrit L'Acadie Nouvelle le 4 juillet.

"En tout cas, perdre nos «gros chars» une bonne partie de la semaine n'aidera pas les gens ordinaires qui n'ont pas les moyens de prendre l'avion," Marcel Arseneau a écrit L'Acadie Nouvelle. 

Ottawa,  July 11, Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains screening 

The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains will be screening the film De-Railed: The National Dream in Ottawa July 11th.  Showtime is 7 pm at the Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door. De-Railed: The National Dream is a documentary examining the crumbling state of the Canadian railway system. Having lost more than 10,000 kilometres of track since 1990, why has Canada allowed it’s “ribbon of rail” to become so tattered?

Included in the film are interviews with Harry Gow founding President of Transport Action Canada and Chair of Transport Pontiac-Renfrew, David Jeanes current President of Transport Action Canada, James Allen former Ottawa Central Railway general manager and Barry Wellar Professor Emeritus of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Ottawa, among others.

Stratford-Toronto commuter fights planned Via train cuts

“I don’t believe Via when they say the routes are underutilized,” said Karen Schulman Dupuis, who has set up a Facebook page urging people to get involved in staving off the plan to discontinue the train that leaves Stratford daily at 5: 50 a. m. Schulman Dupuis is also not happy about Via cutting the train that leaves Toronto nightly at 10: 10 p. m," Donal O'Connor reported for the Stratford Beacon-Herald on Jun 30.

Via cuts cramp London's commuter reach

Rather than cutting what's available now, London and area is calling for increased investment in high-speed rail to attract visitors and business to the southwest region," Norman De Bono reported for the London Free Press on Jun. 27.

Making "efficient and economical" transportation better can help London entice business. But the Via cuts could cost the city that chance Coun. Joni Baechler says," the London Free Press reported.

Fast, regular train service between Calgary and Edmonton

"I would like to see our national transcontinental train service expanded, with three day per week service on the north route through Saskatoon and Edmonton (The Super Continental) and three day per week service on the south route through Regina and Calgary (The Canadian). I would like to finally see fast, regular train service between Calgary and Edmonton (missing since 1985). And I would like to see rail services expanded between major population centres across the country, not just in Ontario and Quebec," Jason Shron, wrote the Toronto Star on Jul 8 2012.

Medicine Hat, Bring back daily rail service

"Why can't all levels of government join forces to do something smart and use our tax dollars to subsidize passenger service to keep the trains running?" Brian Pickering wrote in a letter to the Medicine Hat News on July 5.

Gaspé protests of 2009 worked

The Moncton Times and Transcript reported on Steve Boyko's coverage of the reaction of people on the Gaspé peninsula to relatively minor changes to their rail service in 2009. The newspaper reported: "Boyko's posting on at the time captured some of the passion folks in Gaspé have for their train: "(P)rotestors blocked the railway track at Barachois, Quebec and delayed VIA 16, the Chaleur. They were protesting several things: the removal of the on-board cook, VIA's refusal to add extra cars for the holidays, and the removal of the Chaleur name from the train. They put tables and chairs on the track, then had lunch. The track was blocked from 11:40 to 13:15." Boyko said the protest had broad community support.

"The protest was organized by Rural Dignity of Canada, a grassroots organization that fights for smaller communities' rights. The federal MP, provincial MNA, and the mayors of Gaspé and Percé were present, as well as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Gaspé and the Anglican Bishop of Quebec City." The protests worked," the Moncton Times and Transcript reported on July 6, 2012.

Via Rail is cutting service to and from Kitchener

"On (June 27), Via announced it is cutting the 6:30 a.m. train to Toronto that leaves Kitchener every weekday. It is also cutting the 10:10 p.m. train that leaves Toronto to come back Kitchener every weeknight. The service cuts will take effect some time before the end of October," Terry Pender reported for the Record.

"Paul Langan, an outspoken advocate of passenger rail, is not buying any of Via’s reasons for reducing service local service. Langan, of the grassroots group High Speed Rail, said it costs too much to ride a Via train and the railway needs to increase service to attract more riders. “Via has brought this on itself,” Langan said. “Their prices are out of line with the average Canadian,” the Record reported.

Restigouche County, More bad news for our region

"Via Rail will cut its passenger services in Restigouche County. … It is reported that come next October, Via Rail will operate the Ocean on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

"Perhaps the Hon. Bernard Valcourt, MP for Madawaska-Restigouche and Minister of ACOA and la Francophonie could do something regarding this matter in Ottawa. … We are indeed losing an important service in the Maritimes," Michel Arsenault wrote to the Telegraph-Journal on July 9, 2012.

Coupures chez VIA Rail: une gifle au transport collectif

"La réduction du nombre de voyages hebdomadaires du train reliant Montréal et Halifax de six à trois affectera non seulement les provinces maritimes, mais aussi l'ouest de la Gaspésie et tout le Bas-Saint-Laurent," Gilles Gagné a rapporté pour le Soleil le 27 juin.  Cette décision est dénoncée par les meneurs socio-économiques des deux régions comme le député fédéral de Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Philip Toone, Michel Morin, maire de Rivière-du-Loup, et Michel Lagacé, président de la Conférence régionale des élus du Bas-Saint-Laurent.

Halifax, Via cuts will lead to another round of  service reduction

"John Pearce, with Transport Action Atlantic in Halifax, said he was shocked to hear the Ocean will be cut to three days a week for the entire year, including holidays. “You wonder what would happen to a big-box store if it cut its operating hours in half? The patrons would turn to rivals, and this is what’s going to happen with the Ocean.” Cutting the frequency of service by half will reduce passenger loads by a similar amount and result in yet another service reduction," Bill Power wrote for the Chronicle-Herald on  Jun 28 2012.

Sarnia Mayor, People are prisoners in their own communities

"This is devastating -- the train is vitally important to this community," Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said. Sarnia is the hardest-hit centre in the region, the cuts slashing its service in half to one train a day. "This is creating a situation where people are prisoners in their own communities," said Bradley. "There are seniors, students who will become disenfranchised as a result," noting Greyhound also cut its bus service into Sarnia," Norman De Bono reported for the London Free Press on Jun. 27.

"Daniel Hammond of the transportation advocacy group Transport Action Ontario (said) "We are saying they should not just stop the cuts, but reverse them. They need to go in a different direction and invest more in Via," the London Free Press reported.

Stratford Gazette, Rail service cuts hurt passengers, city

"If the brass at VIA Rail hope to build ridership across the country in the years to come, they sure have a funny way of thanking their dedicated customers. The move is also troubling for city officials who recognize the important role rail service plays in attracting tourists and business-minded people wanting to start or move a family outside the big city," a July 4 editorial in the Stratford Gazette said.

St. Mary's, A message to VIA Rail decision-makers

"For those hoping to reverse VIA Rail’s decision to axe one out of the current three daily trains destined for Toronto (and one of the three returning routes), however, to whom should they turn?

"Perth-Wellington MP Gary Schellenberger has committed to taking the concerns of the riding’s train-travelling communities — as expressed by their municipal government leaders — to the federal Transport minister," a July 5 St. Marys Journal Argus editorial said.

Truro Petition against Via cuts

Compressions dans les services de Via Rail - Solidarité rurale du Québec dénonce les conséquences pour les communautés rurales

SRC, La réduction de service chez Via Rail 
François Vigneault,le mardi 10 juillet 2012

Bonjour à tous lecteurs du TRAQ-Hebdo

Greetings to all TRAQ-Hebdo readers

Paul Langan Discusses VIA RAIL cuts on CKTB Larry Fedoruk Show
Friday, June 29, 2012

Surface Transportation Board, CNR abandonment of Whirlpool Bridge Niagara Falls, June 27, 2012
From the decision: "(Amtrak) uses the Line for its "Maple Leaf" service, which operates twice a day in conjunction with VIA Rail Canada. This service is expected to continue following CNR's abandonment of the Line."

Office of the Chief Coroner On Ontario Cycling Death Review

A Review of All Accidental Cycling Deaths in Ontario From January 1st, 2006 to December 31st, 2010. This report is dedicated to Ontarians who lost their lives while cycling, and in particular, to the 129 people whose deaths were reviewed.

Steve Munro, Toronto OneCity Plan

"The OneCity plan has much to recommend it even though in the details it is far from perfect. The funding scheme requires Queen’s Park to modify the handling of assessment value changes, and they are already cool to this scheme.  Why OneCity proponents could not simply and honestly say “we need a 1.9% tax hike every year for the next four years” (not unlike the ongoing 9% increases to pay for Toronto Water infrastructure upgrades) is baffling," ace blogger Steve Munro reported on June 28.

Eyjafjallajökull, ICAO and Industry Develop New Tools

"The International Volcanic Ash Task Force (IVATF), a special multidisciplinary group established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in response to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in April 2010, has delivered a series of practical tools and recommendations to significantly mitigate the impact of future volcanic events on international aviation operations," ICAO reported on June 27.

Transport Canada disregards safety with latest round of layoffs

Today Transport Canada advised another 157 people that they may lose their jobs including … technical inspectors responsible for marine safety and security, as well as civil aviation airworthiness inspector. "We are deeply concerned for the safety of the travelling public. Once again, inspectors in marine safety and security as well as civil aviation are being chipped away at a time when we both know there are not enough inspectors to do the work," the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, represents the majority of unionized workers at Transport Canada.

Transport Action Canada
Hotline 1173, July 11, 2012
(formerly Transport 2000 / anciennement Transport 2000 Canada)
(613) 594-3290
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Aug. 25-26, Charny, FESTIRAIL, TRAQ

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