Wakefield steam train track repairs investigated
The municipal owners of the railroad tracks leading from Gatineau to Wakefield, Que. say the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield steam train might not be dead after all.
The popular tourist train ceased operations in 2011 after torrential rains in the Ottawa-Gatineau region damaged the tracks in June.
But according to CCFO, the company managed by the municipalities of Gatineau, Chelsea and La Peche, a new study said the tracks could be repaired for about $7 million. Wakefield resides in the municipality of La Peche.
The CCFO said it would establish an advisory committee to evaluate its options and seek out financial partners. Among the possibilities they might consider are installing a station to Chelsea instead of the Hull sector of Gatineau, to avoid the damaged part of the tracks.
The group said the earliest the train would resume is 2013.
The tracks were repaired in 2008 and 2009 at a cost of over $3 million after a landslide in May 2008.
The owner and general manager of the 104-year-old steam train, André Groulx, said the news is not encouraging from his perspective. He says the tracks have been closed for so many years that it's impossible for him to make any money.
"We're losing so many seasons. It's hard times... It's like restarting from scratch," he said Tuesday.
In July the train was posted for sale at a price of $550,000 as listed on the website ozarkmountainrailcar.com.
The Outaouais Tourism Board has said the train brings in 50,000 to 60,000 tourists into Wakefield each year, generating close to $10 million in revenues.