Canadian federal government help needed to improve rail service, Sarnia, Ontario mayor says

January 9, 2016

By Barbara Simpson, Sarnia Observer

A newly-formed caucus of Southwestern Ontario mayors could be headed to Ottawa this spring to get the Liberal government on board with improving passenger rail service in the region.Website Insert Turnkey Packages copy

Members of the Southwest Urban Mayors’ Caucus discussed rail service and a potential trip to the nation’s capital during their inaugural meeting held in Stratford this week.

Among the caucus members – including Stratford, Kitchener, London and Windsor – improved Via Rail service has been top of mind because several communities in the region have experienced service cuts over the last few years.

Last June, Via Rail announced its service in Sarnia would increase to four trains daily, starting in 2016, contingent on securing greater use of Canadian National Railway-controlled track.

“We need the federal government to be assisting communities in getting Via access to the rail lines which CN controls,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley. “We can’t follow through on this ambitious plan even here without the cooperation of Canadian National.”

In a statement, Via Rail spokesperson Marie-Anna Murat said the passenger rail service continues to “work with the rail owner and local stakeholders to provide increased frequencies in the region and provide better service to our customers.”

Members of Rail Advocacy in Lambton (RAIL) have been continuing to meet with Via Rail over the last few months to keep abreast of planned service improvements.

They are hopeful Via Rail will complete the first phase of service improvements by the group’s third anniversary in June, said Mabel Higgins, vice-president of the committee.

An overhaul of Sarnia’s train station is still underway, she noted, adding part of the restoration – including accessible doors and a new ticket purchasing kiosk – have been completed so far.

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