VIA Rail cuts Sackville staff
Mount Allison students worry about rail service
Some students and residents in Sackville are worried about their train service after VIA Rail cut staff at the small university town's station.
VIA Rail told the CBC on Wednesday that the Sackville station will be unmanned starting in October.
The station will remain open, but passengers will be on their own.
Last month VIA Rail announced it would be cutting services throughout the Maritimes. This year its funding was cut by the federal government by $6.5 million and another $34.7 million will be lost over the next two years. The budget cuts will mean fewer trains and workers across the country.
The cuts are felt by Mount Allison University student Rachel Coon, who relies on VIA to travel home to Ontario.
"Especially during the Christmas holidays it's such a busy time of year, that the trains are always packed and to reduce the amount of the service would mean there would be even more people on the train and less of a possibility that you'll even get a seat," she said.
Coon said the staff cuts are another blow on top of reducing the number of trains from six to three days a week.
"Pretty bad situation for any students in Sackville that take the train," she said.
The Mount Allison Students' Union is concerned about the impact on students and had been asking VIA Rail to maintain its staff and stop.
Student Union President Pat Joyce said having staff is important to new students.
"I think it's important to students that we do have a service station here so students can go book a train and be able to access that without having to go online in advance. I think it makes it a lot easier for students and makes it a lot more accessible," he said.
Sackville's Mayor Bob Berry said some residents are coming to him with their concerns about getting off and on the trains in wheelchairs.
A spokesperson with VIA Rail said wheelchair assistance will continue and the company will pay for passengers to travel to Moncton's staffed station.
Berry said another concern is what will happen to the station's workers.
"There'll be employees lost. There could be as many as three and in any small town that's a lot of work."
VIA Rail also announced that its Amherst station will be unmanned this fall.