Yvon Godin

NDP MP Yvon Godin says with a meeting planned this week with Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and New Brunswick mayors he is feeling optimistic about the future of Via Rail service to the Maritimes. (CP)

Yvon Godin, says he is feeling "optimistic" that Via Rail service will continue to the Maritimes.

The New Democratic Party Member of Parliament for Acadie-Bathurst says he met with Canadian National Railway officials last week along with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in Montreal.

He says CN told him it is no longer asking the federal government to purchase the stretch of track between Miramichi and Bathurst for $10 million.

"If they were to get the $10 million to help them to repair the bridge in Miramichi and repair the rail from Miramichi to Bathurst they will do it themselves," said Godin. "They will look after it and they will do the maintenance for the next 15 years and that's positive."

CN has filed notice of its intent to discontinue rail operations on a 70 kilometre section of the Newcastle subdivision. That section is currently used by Via Rail to run its trains from Halifax to Montreal.

The line has been offered for sale to the private sector as part of the discontinuation process, but there was no deal struck to sell the line to a private operator.

Meeting planned with Ottawa

Godin is also encouraged by the fact that Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has agreed to meet with him and a group of mayors from New Brunswick.

In a statement, Raitt says no final decision has been made on the rail line.

"I told my colleagues…I was happy to meet with New Brunswick mayors to discuss this rail line, and that is exactly what I will be doing this week," Raitt said.

Godin says he believes the meeting is a big step.

"Well I want to be an optimist because they did not close the door," Godin said.

Via Rail

Via Rail service to the Maritimes could be lost when CN abandons a 70 kilometre section of track between Bathurst and Miramichi. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

"If it would have been a `No,' I think that they would say it, as they said at the beginning. They said they were not in the business of the train and now they're talking and I think that's encouraging."

Godin and the federal New Democrats have been pushing to save the rail line.

He continues to call on Conservative MPs in New Brunswick to join the fight, arguing that securing passenger service would be a huge political opportunity.

"Well if they can't pull that out in their own government  10 million dollars it's a little drop of water in the Baie de Chaleur. If they can't do it then I don't know what they're doing there. I mean the pressure is on them to and all the mayors of New Brunswick is putting pressure, especially the mayors in eastern New Brunswick, is putting pressure on the government to have the money to be invested."

The New Brunswick government gave CN $25-million in January to upgrade the section of the line from Irvco and Nepisquit Junction in the north and between Catamount and Nelson Junction in the south, which both have active freight customers. However, the 70 kilometre section in the middle of the subdivision requires significant investment to maintain and CN filed notice to discontinue its rail operations on that section.