Via Rail cuts concern workers and passengers
Via Rail’s decision to cut back on train service throughout the Maritimes is causing some people who rely on the company for jobs and transportation to question the future of rail service in the region.
Via Rail announced in Halifax on Wednesday the company’s Ocean service, which runs between Montreal and Halifax, will run only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays starting in the fall.
Jennifer Brown, the president of Local 4005 of Canadian Auto Workers union, said 30 people in Halifax will be out of work and 15 employees in Moncton will lose their jobs. The layoffs are effective as of the end of October.
This year Via Rail's funding was cut by the federal government by $6.5 million and another $34.7 million will be lost over the next two years. The budget cuts will mean fewer trains and workers across the country.
Brown said the cuts will impact her directly.
"Right now I’ve been with the company for 13 years, I hold a permanent job right now but by the end of October I will be laid off," she said.
Via Rail said that no stations will be cut due to Wednesday’s announcement but workers say with reduced service this is the first step in the Ocean line's slow demise.
Passengers concerned by cuts
While the cuts are causing uncertainty for the rail company’s workers, many travellers are also concerned about the further reduction of mass transportation options in the region.
"I think it's very inconvenient because you never know when you need to travel and there are going to be emergencies so sometimes you're going to be stuck and you don't know what to do," said Kim Desevue.
Joseanne Doucette said the cuts to the rail service come at a time when there are further reductions in other modes of mass transit.
She said students will have to wait longer to get home if they can’t rely on the bus or train systems.
"We can't rely on the bus anymore and we only have three days to take the train," she said.
"So when we finish an exam, we have to wait what, four days to go home, but then the vacation is over, it's really an inconvenience."
Acadie-Bathurst NDP MP Yvon Godin says the cutback is just one more strain on the northern line.
Via pays CN Rail to use the tracks between Campbellton and Moncton.
There are already existing fears that CN will axe the line altogether and Godin said Wednesday’s cuts fuel that worry.
"Having Via Rail to just use the rail three times a week instead of six, I think is not going to be good. I'm worried that it's more money that CN will lose," he said.