Via Rail enthusiasts rally to save Maritime train service

A series of rallies were held Sunday at train stations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with rail enthusiasts urging Via Rail to continue service in the region.

Passenger service in N.S. and N.B. could be lost when CN abandons 70-kilometre section of track

Via Rail is blaming "operational reasons" for the cancellation "until further notice" of trains between Winnipeg and Churchill. (CBC)

A series of rallies were held Sunday at train stations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with rail enthusiasts urging Via Rail to continue service in the region.

There are fears that when Canadian National Railway abandons a stretch of line between Miramichi and Bathurst, it will spell an end to Via Rail in the Maritimes because the passenger service uses the same line.

Via Rail has said it could cancel passenger service from Quebec to the Maritimes if CN doesn't find an investor for the 70-kilometre section of line.

The rallies are part of an effort spearheaded by the advocacy group Transport Action Atlantic. They are urging the federal government to come to the rescue and keep Via running through the Maritimes.

The first rally was held Sunday morning in Halifax. Michael McFadden, a frequent train user, says the service should be better marketed and the government should boost funding.

"Even though I’m an ex-pilot I actually prefer travelling by train," he said. "It’s a much more civilized way to go.I think it’s something that we really need to keep a connection between Atlantic Canada and Montreal and Toronto."

One of those on board the train was Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer, the deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada.

"We've already cut Via Rail in the Maritimes from six times a week to three times a week and now we're at risk of losing it all together," he said.

"When it's gone, people will say, 'What a shame, why didn't anybody speak up and do anything?'"