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Rail abandonment disastrous for passenger service in New Brunswick, says rail union

Unifor calls on federal government for funds to keep rail service in the region

MONCTON, NB, Feb. 5, 2014 /CNW/ - Unifor is expressing its disappointment that Canadian National Railway will abandon a 70 kilometer section of railway and is raising concerns about the impact it could have on passenger rail in the region. The union is calling for a public consultation before the section of rail can be abandoned.

The 70 kilometer track is considered the most significant part of the Newcastle Subdivision —the middle between Nelson Junction and Nepisiquit Junction — and was not included in the agreement between the New Brunswick government and CN Rail. This will mean that there will be no connection on the line between the Bathurst and Moncton areas.

"The decision by CN Rail and the New Brunswick government could leave part of the province without adequate rail services, particularly on the Montreal to Halifax Ocean run," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, representing workers at CN, CP and Via Rail.  "If CN Rail is allowed to discontinue this line it could have devastating effects on Via Rail's operations in eastern Canada."

It is estimated that 50 per cent of passenger traffic on the Ocean run is generated north of Moncton in communities such as Rogersville, Miramichi, Bathurst, Petit Rocher, Jacquet River, Charlo and Campbellton (in New Brunswick) as well as Matepedia , Causapascal, Amqui, Sayabec, Mont Joli, Rimouski, Trois Pistoles and River Du Loup (in Quebec). "These communities could be at risk of no passenger rail service if CN Rail is allowed to discontinue this line," said Dias.

Dias said the abandonment of this important section of the line could put Via Rail Canada in great jeopardy in Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. "Even if Via Rail were to decide to operate on the Edmundston-Moncton Subdivision, it would not generate the passenger revenue needed to sustain itself."

Unifor is calling on the CN Rail to maintain ownership and maintenance of this vital link in eastern Canada and the New Brunswick government to hold a public consultation. The union is also calling on the federal government to provide funding and work with the affected provincial and municipal governments, CN Rail and Via Rail to ensure that this important link is maintained to provide passenger rail service to New Brunswick and Quebec at current levels.   

Unifor represents approximately 8,000 railway workers across Canada.  Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, with more than 300,000 members across Canada, and some 156,000 in Ontario. It was founded Labour Day weekend when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.

In December, Unifor launched its vision for passenger rail renewal - read it here:

SOURCE Unifor the union