People who want to save the CN Rail line through northern New Brunswick say the derailment near Plaster Rock earlier this week shows how important it is to have a second rail line through the province.
A CN Rail train hauling crude oil, propane, butane and other goods derailed in Wapske at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, sparking a massive fire in some of the derailed cars that continued to billow smoke into the rural area throughout Thursday.
CN Rail will be using the northern line for several days until the main line is repaired, a company spokesperson told CBC News.
Campbellton Mayor Bruce MacIntosh believes the incident will help his group lobby CN, as well as the provincial and federal governments, to keep the line from Campbellton to Moncton open.
"If they do have a problem on one line, then certainly this line that we have here in northern New Brunswick can certainly add to their other transportation link into Halifax. So I think this project is now going to be even more important than ever," MacIntosh told CBC News.
CN Railway has said it may be forced to discontinue part of the Newcastle Subdivision service by March, unless it can raise $50 million to repair its aging tracks.
The company is incurring annual losses due to declining traffic volumes and infrastructure costs and needs assistance to keep the 224-kilometre stretch between Catamount, just west of Moncton, and Irvco, about 32 kilometres west of Bathurst, operating, officials have said.
Bathurst Mayor Stephen Brunet says he's glad CN is able to use the northern line to keep the freight moving through the province while the derailment is investigated and cleaned up.
"It points to the need for our rail beds to be upgraded and points to the need for this line to remain, so that in the event of anything like this happening again, it's there," he said.
For safety reasons, freight trains using the northern line will only be able to travel at 40 kilometres per hour along sections where the rail bed has deteriorated, CN officials said.