Group looking for a way to save Cape Breton rail line

Tracks could be ripped up and sold by railway's owner

Tracks could be ripped up and sold by railway's owner

John Malcom chaired the public meeting on Sunday held in Sydney on Sunday by the Scotia Rail Development Society. (CBC/Hal Higgins)

About 350 people turned out on Sunday to discuss saving the Cape Breton portion of the Truro-to-Sydney rail line.

The Scotia Rail Development Society is trying to stop the railway's owner from tearing up the tracks.

John Malcom, the retired CEO of the Cape Breton District Health Authority, chaired the meeting. In an interview with CBC Cape Breton's Information Morning, Malcom said the group wants a number of questions answered before April 1. That's when the railway's owner, Genosee Wyoming, plans to apply to abandon the line.

The group says the rail line should stay intact because there's too much at stake in terms of future development that would require rail transportation, such as Donkin Coal and possible new business at a commercialized Port of Sydney.

"Do we want to see 30,000 trucks on the road carrying coal?" Malcom said. "How does that fit in with our Paris commitments to reduce greenhouse gases when we know that rail is one-quarter as polluting as trucks?"

He added that it's essential that the track be saved to take advantage of what might happen at the port. Malcom points to a meeting that CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke has called for March 12 about the future of the rail line.

The public is getting behind the project in a big way, he said.  As of Sunday more than 11,500 Cape Bretoners had signed the group's petition demanding that the rail line be saved.

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