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Cape Breton needs rail service

Ideas In Motion

The potential for restoration of rail freight service to Cape Breton Island remains strong – and the Government of Canada has an obligation to shoulder its share of responsibility.  Nearly five years after the last freight train ran over the 96-mile section of the former CN Sydney Subdivision, the Province of Nova Scotia continues to pay the current owner of the line, US-based Genesee and Wyoming Corporation, a monthly allowance of up to $60,000. This covers such expenses as salaries, insurance, security and building maintenance directly attributed to the line between St. Peter’s Junction and Sydney, in return for which G&W will not apply to remove the track.

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Rail infrastructure funding exists

Province must support the request but local cabinet ministers ‘have been as quiet as mice’ on the issue

CB 15062018 Railway CS largeShown above in this file photo is a view toward the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia's rail operations off Ferry Street in Sydney’s north end. - Chris Shannon (Image © Cape Breton Post)

By Daniel Doucet

The recent controversy over the proposed transportation of Donkin coal by barge raises the question once again of why the use of rail transportation is not being taken more seriously by government.

When the new owners recently announced their plan to proceed with seismic testing, area fishermen were alarmed, but were quieted temporarily by the coal company’s construction of the make-shift highway. Although they had expressed a preference for rail transportation, they had at least, for the time being, warded off the coal company from their fishing grounds.

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Light at the end of the Cape Breton rail tunnel?

Province agrees to subsidize some operational costs to maintain Cape Breton rail

cbpost railroad 2017 septemberThis file photo from 2015 shows one of the last trains to operate on the Genesee & Wyoming line in Cape Breton. Under a new preservation agreement, the existing rail line between St. Peter's Junction, near Port Hawkesbury, and Sydney will be maintained.

By Nancy King | Cape Breton Post | 1 September 2017

SYDNEY, N.S. — The province has reached an agreement with the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway Ltd. that will see the Cape Breton portion of the railway preserved for a period in exchange for the province reimbursing operational expenses.But while the year-long agreement was announced Friday, it was back-dated to March, Minister of Business Geoff MacLellan said in an interview. The deal may be renewed with the approval of Treasury Board.“It’s incumbent on me, and we’ve asked for this, that I go back to Treasury Board to explain the relationship, to explain the details of the investment, to explain the total expenditures that have been made,” MacLellan said, adding they didn’t want to start with a two- or three-year dealUnder the preservation agreement, the existing rail line between St. Peter's Junction, near Port Hawkesbury, and Sydney will be maintained. The company agreed to not apply to abandon the line and the province will reimburse what it described in a news release as valid expenses up to $60,000 a month.

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Scotia Rail Predicts Busy 2017

imageA spokesman for the Scotia Railway Development Society says they intend to spend much of 2017 working to continue to maintain the railway in Cape Breton and encourage improved public policy around rail in the province. © Cape Breton PostSYDNEY — A spokesman for the Scotia Railway Development Society predicts 2017 will be a busy year for the group as it works to not only maintain the railway in Cape Breton but also to encourage better public policy around rail in the province.

Greg MacLeod said the society’s prime objective was to prevent Genesee & Wyoming, owner of the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway, from tearing up the Cape Breton portion of the tracks and selling them. For months, the railway has been in a position where it could apply to abandon the line but it hasn’t done so.

“We succeeded in that,” he said. “Our next objective is where do we go from here, the future development, and there’s a number of possibilities on the table.”

In a recent interview, Nova Scotia Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan said Genesee & Wyoming has not taken any steps to abandon the railway. He also noted that in recent discussions around the future of port development in Sydney harbour, the railway has shown a willingness to be at the table.

The railway has said it will work with the team marketing the port of Sydney for development, but that it wouldn't necessarily change its plans to apply to abandon the line. Rail will be critical to any future port development and the port has been identified as the only real potential source of new railway traffic.

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Opinion: Restore rail service to Cape Breton

opinion Aug 2016Trains can move cargo far more cheaply than trucks, so why do we allow railways to abandon track?MARY MACPHERSON & MADELINE LAWLER
Published August 26, 2016

RAILWAYS are a driving force in the economy, offering the cheapest and cleanest form of ground transportation. For almost 20 years, rail companies have been allowed to regulate themselves and abandon lines, with almost no government intervention or concern for communities they serve.

Rail companies are profit driven. Moving traffic to trucks on taxpayer-funded highways is cheaper for them than running a train on low-traffic lines they have to maintain. But is this really better for communities, the economy and the environment?

How about protecting Nova Scotia taxpayers’ investments in our highways by diverting more truck traffic to railways? Rail could help trucking companies that face driver shortages and, in the long run, unstable fuel prices.

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Our Mission Is Fourfold:

  1. Explore various options for continuation of the rail service to Sydney, Cape Breton
  2. Demonstrate the vital importance regionally in order to support the continuation of the rail link to Sydney, Cape Breton
  3. Support efforts to ensure continuation of the rail link to Sydney, Cape Breton
  4. Secure in perpetuity the right of way of the line

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