Subsidy cut spells end to Sault-Hearst passenger train service

At the end of March, passenger train service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst will no longer run, now that CN Rail says its funding from the federal government has been cut.
According to the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains, CN called the Mayor of Hearst to say that the Federal government has ended the subsidy that pays for the passenger service from the Sault to Hearst. As a result that service will end on March 31. (Algoma Central Railway)

At the end of March, passenger train service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst will no longer run, now that CN Rail says its funding from the federal government has been cut.

A spokesperson with the Coalition For Algoma Passenger Trains said the lack of passenger service will hurt tourist outfitters along that line.

And Linda Savory-Gordon said it won't just be the tourism sector that will suffer from this decision.

"There are people who come to Hearst and Kapuskasing, increasingly we're seeing people from Kap who go over to Hearst and take the train down here to the Sault to access health services and to visit family and friends,” she said.

Savory-Gordon said mayors of affected municipalities are in talks to discuss the next steps.

The federal government emailed CBC News with the following response to questions about the cuts:

"The decision by the Government of Canada to discontinue federal funding for this service was based on the fact that the Algoma Central Railway passenger service did not meet the objectives the Remote Passenger Rail Program. Sault Ste. Marie, Hearst and Hawk Junction have year-round access to the national transportation system through other means, such as highways.

The Government of Canada has no direct role in operating the Algoma Passenger Rail Service.

CN is a private company that makes its own decisions concerning its operations and which services and routes are offered to its customers. The decision to terminate the Algoma Central passenger rail service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst is a business decision which was made by CN Rail, the owner of the Algoma Central Railway."

According to information posted on its website on Monday, the coalition said the same thing happened in 1995, but the communities, businesses and other users of the passenger train successfully reversed the decision.

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