Save Via Rail service in N.B. communities, urges NDP
New Democrats pushing prime minister to save rail service in eastern Canada
The federal New Democrats are pushing the Harper government to save a vital rail line in eastern Canada.
Acadie-Bathurst New Democrat MP YvonGodin warns that, without federal help, communities east of Quebec will lose the already reduced service that Via Rail provides in the region.
"Members of Parliament that don't defend the interest of New Brunswick," Godin shouted on the floor of the House of Commons earlier this week.
On Thursday, Godin held a press conference calling our Conservative MPs in New Brunswick.
“Those Members of Parliament in the Conservative Party will have to answer to their own people how they will [lose] Via Rail in Miramichi. They will have to answer to the people of Rogersville, how they will lose the service of Via Rail in their community," he said.
Eight out of the 10 MPs in New Brunswick are Conservative. While they haven't said much, on Thursday Tilly O'Neill Gordon, the MP for Miramichi, responded to Godin.
“Despite what the opposition says, there has been no announcement made. I, along with many of our colleagues such Rob Goguen, Mr. Valcourt, especially our New Brunswick MPs have expressed the need and our concerns for this," she said.
CN Rail has announced it will abandon a 70-kilometre stretch of track between Miramichi and Bathurst because it no longer carries freight on the line.
Via Rail has said it can't afford to buy the line, let alone maintain it.
Godin says unless Ottawa steps in, passenger service from Quebec to the Maritimes will no longer exist.
He notes that CN has already pledged $30 million to maintain the tracks, and the New Brunswick government has offered $25 million.
“One of the poorest provinces of the country will be putting $25 million on it. And it's a shame to see that the federal government not participating into it," said Godin.
Federal Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt said the federal government is not willing to pay the $10 million to keep that stretch of tracks running.
“It's up for private sector cooperation, it's also there for the province or for the municipalities to purchase the line. If there is passenger and freight service, I'm sure somebody will step up and take advantage of the opportunity," she said.
With files from The Canadian Press