A decision by Via Rail to spend millions of dollars to preserve passenger rail service in the region is being applauded by northern New Brunswick mayors who will now come together to make a plan to increase ridership.

Via announced Monday it will pay Canadian National Railway $10.2 million to upgrade a key, 70-kilometre section of track between Bathurst and Miramichi.

Without the repairs, Via might have been forced to abandon its service, endangering the entire Ocean run between Halifax and Montreal.

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Miramichi Mayor Gerry Cormier says it is now up to northern New Brunswick communities to increase railway ridership. (CBC)

Now it's up to local communities to get more people using the train, says Miramichi Mayor Gerry Cormier.

"That's something we've got to try to get out and market, because it was the same as other issues for transportation, it's kind of use it or lose it," said Cormier.

"We have to increase the ridership. We're going to work on some kind of plan with the mayors in the north together to try to come up with something to pick up the ridership."

Via says with the new money, it hopes to see ridership on the Ocean run increase from 80,000 people a year to more than 125,000.