There was a time when riding the rails was the way Canadians got around. Before the days of cars, buses and planes people wanting to get from one part of this country had very few choices. They could walk, go by horse and buggy or sail. The most economical and efficient way of travelling was by rail. Those days have passed us by.
On Wednesday, Via Rail confirmed its scaling back much of its passenger service in Canada as it deals with a multi-year $41-million cut announced in March's federal budget.
Locally, the government-owned passenger rail service will reduce its Ocean run between Halifax and Montreal from six times a week to three while its western run will be cut from three runs to two. There are other cuts planned in southern Ontario.
The reduction could mean the loss of up to 45 jobs on the trains themselves and along the route. While it has yet to determined, the cut could very well call the future of several train stations along the route.
In many centres it was normal practice to hop on the train to travel from community to community. Today that's almost impossible, as the number of stops has been reduced over the years and the number of stations cut.
The train is no longer the preferred method of travel in Canada. The country is so large that businesspeople are more likely to use air travel because it's quicker and in a lot of cases just as cost effective. The train is still popular in Europe because the distances aren't as great and the fares not as high. People have been conditioned to use the train almost as much as their cars.
Somewhere along the line Via Rail lost the battle to newer modes of transportation. While there is a romantic aspect to riding the rails, the taxpayer really shouldn't be shelling out millions of dollars for a system that people aren't using. It's just unfortunate that so many people and a lot of communities are going to have to pay the price.