The idea of having a commuter rail system in Halifax was dealt a blow Monday as the city released a report which found it would not be economically viable.

In January 2012, the city engaged consultanting firm CPCS to do a feasibility study for a commuter rail system. The study looked at routes from Halifax to Elmsdale, Halifax to Cobequid (Windsor Junction), and Halifax to Beaver Bank.

While the study found a system would be technically feasible, factors such as"high initial capital costs, high annual operating costs and relatively low fare revenue" would make the project too costly.

The study also looked at how the costs of a commuter rail system would compare to the current public transit system. It found that on a Halifax-to-Cobequid route, the service would have 3,049 passengers daily and would cost almost $10 million in annual operating costs. Halifax Transit's eight express routes that run to downtown Halifax cost about $2.3 million to operate and carry 3,608 passengers each day.

The study also noted the downtown Halifax station location would be "unfavourably located in terms of the major employment centres in the downtown."

Reason for optimism

However, should there be significant population growth where the proposed station locations are located (West End, Mill Cove, Birch Cove and Sunnyside), this would change the viability.

Also federal funding for commuter rail infrastructure costs would also make the project more economically attractive.