rail

Sean Burke says his company would face increased operating costs if the island portion of the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway shut down. (CBC)

Business leaders in Sydney are worried about the potential loss of the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway line after receiving a letter from the company announcing its intention to shut down the island portion of the line this fall.

"If we're going to promote the Port of Sydney as a place to do business, it's usually not a good idea not to have rail," said Paul Carrigan, the general manager of the Port of Sydney.

"You do need rail and roadway in order to ship goods, as well as sea."

He said existing businesses in the Sydney area use the rail service to transport goods in and out.

The Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway has written to several businesses in the area, saying it plans to shut down the island portion of the line this fall. Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan confirmed the rail company wants to abandon the line.

Increased operating costs

Polysteel Atlantic is a Sydney company that makes synthetic rope and brings in raw materials by rail. General manager Sean Burke said losing the rail line would mean a big increase in his operating costs.

The mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality says the subsidy is vital and the rail line is crucial to the future of the island.

"My belief is that it has maintained jobs here," said Cecil Clarke. "It has kept investment here. It is growing opportunities for the future."

In a statement, Cape Breton Centre MLA Frank Corbett said the rail line "is crucial to Cape Breton's economy and is a central component to both the harbour redevelopment project and the future of the Donkin mine."

The rail line receives a $2-million subsidy each year from the province. MacLellan said the province will continue to offer the subsidy to any company that would take it over.