A Halifax councillor is hopeful a feasibility study on the possibility of community rail in the region will get underway this year.
The proposal would involve operating a service between Enfield, Windsor Junction, Rockingham, through Bedford and to the VIA Rail Station in Halifax’s southend.
There have been other feasibility studies in the past, but District 2 Coun. Barry Dalrymple said those studies looked into a particular system that wouldn’t be suited to the municipality.
"All of the studies that have been done so far, have all been in regards to light rail. Light rail would have always entailed ripping up the existing tracks that we have and laying down smaller, tighter, light rail tracks. It’s going to look at using the existing normal rail tracks that we’ve had in Nova Scotia forever," said Dalrymple.
Dalrymple said Metro Transit has been trying to get this particular study going for two years now — without success because CN Rail has not been cooperative.
CN Rail is currently in a dispute with the city over the state of four rail bridges and whose responsibility it is to repair them, and will not discuss anything else until that's gone through the courts.
But Dalrymple adds there's been some movement recently so he's optimistic.
"We have asked our staff to work out whatever has to be done to get somebody to talk to us, whether it’s going through VIA, whether it’s going through the federal government — but to find somebody that’s willing to sit down and do this study with us to find out if this is a viable project or not," he said. "We have heard there is some movement and some talks going on so that’s a hopeful sign."
Coucillors who support the idea argue a commuter rail line that allows commuters to bypass the congested Bedford Highway is the best option to solve the Halifax Regional Municipality's traffic woes.