Montreal

Lac-Mégantic railway bypass could happen sooner than July, Quebec transport minister says

Quebec Transport Minister André Fortin says he's confident he can reach a deal quickly with Ottawa to relocate the train tracks that run through the town left devastated by the derailment of a runaway train and resulting explosions in 2013.

André Fortin says he's optimistic after meeting his federal counterpart, Marc Garneau

The federal government has committed to building a railway bypass for Lac-Mégantic, nearly five years after a runaway train derailed and blew up in the centre of town, killing 47 people. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Quebec Transport Minister André Fortin says he's confident he can reach a deal quickly with Ottawa to relocate the train tracks that run through the town of Lac-Mégantic, Que.

This comes after Fortin met his federal counterpart, Marc Garneau, on Monday.

"It was a very positive discussion," Fortin said. "I am confident that we can get this done quickly."

Last week — four-and-a-half years after a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed in the centre of town, triggering explosions and incinerating 47 people — Garneau said his government would provide a "substantial amount" of money toward relocating the rail line.

However, Garneau did not provide details about the size of the financial investment or where exactly the bypass will go.

Quebec has ambitious timeline

Quebec wants the federal government to pay for more than half the cost of the project, estimated at $120 million to $140 million, depending on the chosen route.

Garneau has said he'd like the plans to be final before July. Fortin thinks a more ambitious timeline is possible.

"Our main hope is to get this done quickly, so that the people of Mégantic can have a solution in front of them, and the trains don't run through downtown Mégantic anymore."

July 6 will mark the fifth anniversary of the deadly explosion.

With files from CBC's Angelica Montgomery

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