Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes is calling on Canadian National Railway (CN) to reverse or delay its decision to cancel passenger service between the Sault and Hearst.
CN blames Ottawa and Transport Canada for ruling it ineligible to receive a government subsidy to operate a three-time-a-week passenger train.
The rail carrier told area mayors late last week that the service will be gone by April.
The Conservative MP wants CN to grant more time to prepare affected stakeholders to better understand the implications of the decision and seek alternatives.
CN received an annual subsidy of $2.2 million from Transport Canada’s Regional and Remote Passenger Rail Services Class Contribution Program. But the funding criteria has changed.
In a Jan. 28 news release, Hayes said the decision to chop federal funding is based on the government’s decision not to fund passenger rail service to communities that have year-round access by highway.
Hayes said “all official stops along the ACR route have year-round road access.”
Hayes said this is business decision on CN’s part, adding he has spoken with Sault Mayor Debbie Amaroso and Tom Dodds, CEO of the city’s economic development corporation, to ask for their help to determining the economic impact of the loss of this service.
"I have raised my initial concerns with department officials now that I know CN`s intent, I will continue to support a request for continued federal funding beyond March 2014.”
Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes accused the federal government of “abandoning” communities, hunting and fishing lodges, and tourism businesses in order to “to save a meagre amount of money.”
Hughes said many tourist operators had been away at trade shows only find that their businesses were in jeopardy.
“These are Mom and Pop businesses who don’t know how they will get their guests to the remote locations they operate in without the ACR passenger service,” said Hughes. “It is a case of the government missing the big picture while they count pennies.
“Why won’t this government stand up for Northern Ontario?”