Via Rail

Rallies have been held at Via Rail stations in support of maintaining service in the Maritimes. (CBC)

The federal government is preparing to finance repairs to a 70-kilometre stretch of New Brunswick railway between Miramichi and Bathurst that is used by Via Rail, Radio-Canada has learned.

The section is owned by Canadian National Railway, which is discontinuing service in the area and put it up for sale.

Via Rail uses the stretch as part of its passenger service between Halifax and Montreal. Via has said it will not buy or maintain the section, and has warned it would end service in the Maritimes if the link was abandoned.

Federal Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt will announce a plan to maintain the track on Monday in Fredericton. Premier David Alward will attend, as will the mayors of Miramichi and Bathurst.

CN said in January it would shut down the line if it couldn’t find a buyer. More recently the company has said it will keep the stretch open if it gets money for repairs, according to NDP MP Yvon Godin.

A series of rallies have been staged at Via Rail stations during the last few months, with passengers urging the federal government step in to save service in the Maritimes.