VIA cuts could see Quebec, Maritimes lose all passenger rail service

The Green Party of Canada today called on the Harper Conservatives to intervene to halt drastic cuts to VIA Rail passenger service in Eastern Canada. Last week, CN Rail announced that it will be ceasing all operations on a 70-km section of track in northern New Brunswick, between Miramichi and Bathurst, that is also used by VIA’s Quebec City-to-Halifax Ocean Line.

The move threatens passenger rail service for the entire Maritime region, with cuts expected to take effect as early as this July.

“These reckless, short-sighted service cuts are a disaster for passenger rail in Canada,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich­–Gulf Islands. “This is a critical time to be investing in low-carbon, environmentally responsible transportation infrastructure, and the Harper Conservatives seem intent on letting VIA Rail die an agonizing death by a thousand cuts.”

Bruce Hyer, Green Party Deputy Leader and a long-time passenger rail advocate, described the cuts as “unprecedented and dangerous.” “The government must take control of the Bathurst-Miramichi line to save coast-to-coast VIA service. Instead, they are deliberately putting passenger rail in jeopardy,” said the MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North.

“I will be travelling along this very route on March 2 and 3 to meet with Canadians affected by these changes,” added Hyer. “I hope that, for once, the government will take a leadership role to make passenger rail a priority, instead of sacrificing national rail transport and splitting up the country.”

The Green Party of Canada strongly supports investing in our national rail infrastructure, increasing joint federal-municipal light rail investments, and improving the speed and frequency of VIA rail service nationwide.