TRURO - Any further cuts to Via Rail's passenger service would be a disappointing hit to the Truro area, Mayor Bill Mills says.
© HARRY SULLIVAN – TRURO DAILY NEWS
Truro mayor Bill Mills says any further cuts to Via Rail passenger service would be like "another nail in the coffin" for local transportation options.
CN is considering selling a 70-km stretch of railway in Northern New Brunswick because of a drop in freight traffic, a fact that could jeopardize Via's passenger train travel between Nova Scotia and points beyond.
"You can certainly feel the tap closing from central Canada to Atlantic Canada with regards to transportation and some other things, so it's disconcerting," Mills said, regarding cuts in recent years that Via has made to its Ocean route.
"It's another nail in the coffin for transportation, especially when we're on the cusp of trying to figure out more efficient ways of transporting people, other than using the automobile."
Mills said he expects the issue will be on the agenda at the Atlantic Mayor's Congress, planned for Charlottetown in April and he hopes to discuss the situation there.
"I know the New Brunswick mayors will be on this and I think the Nova Scotia mayors should be as well," he said. "I think there's a lot of discussion that has to take place."
Sitting at the Truro train station waiting to be picked up by the Ocean for a trip to Ontario, Catherine Burrows of Green Oaks said she wished the rail service here was more convenient, such as that which exists in Europe where she lived for a time.
"I guess it's disappointing," she said, if the local service is prone to further cuts.
Whether that will happen, however, is undetermined and Via spokeswoman Mylene Belanger said it is too early to speculate on the situation in New Brunswick.
"As we speak, these are hypothetical questions," Belanger said.
"We will operate as long as the Newcastle line is open. And we will continue to operate our trains as long as it's in safe operating condition."
If the Newcastle line is abandoned, she said, Via will look into "the commercial viability of all other alternatives" for connecting between Halifax and Montreal before adopting another route.
"Different scenarios are possible," Belanger said. "But no decision has been made at this time and we can't speculate what might happen."