West Quebec steam train to run to Montebello, not Wakefield
Historic train could be back in operation by 2017
The historic Wakefield steam train that's been offline for the past four years could be back on the rails by 2017, but its new route likely won't take it through the town that made it famous.
The Compagnie de Chemin de Fer de l'Outaouais, or CCFO — the corporation managed by the municipalities of Gatineau, Chelsea and La Pêche that oversees the train — decided Wednesday on its new route, which will run to Montebello.
The Montebello route was chosen over two other proposals: an urban route through Gatineau and another route that would have taken the tourist train back to Wakefield.
'Confused and disappointed'
The decision to run the train to Montebello instead of Wakefield is an unfortunate one, said Marc Fournier, president of the Wakefield Steam Group.
"We're confused and disappointed. We've fulfilled all the requirements and still we end up with no project," said Fournier, who owns a confectionery in the town. "It belongs in Wakefield."
Fournier added he's not ruling out the possibility his group will buy a different vintage steam train and operate its own tourist run.
The century-old train hasn't been in operation since 2011 when the rail bed between Gatineau and Wakefield was washed out during heavy rains.
The promoters of the Montebello route now have until the end of August to get their finances in place and shorten the route from the current three hours to 90 minutes.
If all the requirements are met, the train could be in operation along the new route by 2017.