May 10, 2014 5:45 pm

NBers optimistic about northern rail service

MONCTON – New Brunswick residents say they’re glad to hear the Ocean Line could be saved in the northern part of the province.

Bathurst’s  mayor is expecting to hear the federal government will step in to save about 70 km of track between Miramichi and Bathurst.

Mayor Stephen Brunet said he was asked to go to the announcement in Fredericton on Monday.

“I expect to hear the federal government is going to kick in the necessary funds to keep this line open,” he said, noting the work could cost about $10 million.

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The federal government would not confirm the announcement. However, a spokesperson said a media advisory would be coming.

The Ocean Line has been struggling with low ticket sales for years.

CN manages the small section of track between Miramichi and Bathurst. but it’s not used for freight and the company had planned to abandon it.

Railway advocates said abandoning the line would kill train service to Quebec.

People taking the Ocean Line towards Halifax on Sunday say the route needs to service the province’s northern areas.

“There would be no train access from Halifax pretty much up to Quebec City so this makes it easier for people in the maritime provinces to have alternative ways of getting around besides the bus and car,” said Katrina Ross.

Seniors could also benefit from the investment.

The Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights executive director says older people living in the north depend on the Ocean Line.

“This is our mode of transportation to get to our families and to get our families down to the Greater Moncton Area and also for medical appointments,” said Cecile Cassista.

People had been fighting to save the section of track for month by holding protests in train stations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The group called Transport Action Atlantic had been leading the charge.

They say the announcement is a big step, but more needs to be done to get the Ocean Line back on track.

“We need to continue fighting because we want daily service restored because we believe that’s something Maritimers deserve,” said Marc Savoie, the group’s vice-president.

Moncton councillor, Charles Leger, said the awareness campaigns may have helped save the line.

“Although some people may not use the service, they may not realize the value of it and I think that’s what all of this brought to the forefront,” he said.

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