Local activism saves Ocean Limited passenger rail as Feds agree to repair tracks

FREDERICTON, May 10, 2014 /CNW/ - After a months-long campaign led by Unifor activists in New Brunswick, the federal government has agreed to provide funding to repair train tracks between Miramichi and Bathurst which will allow passenger rail service to continue in the Maritimes.

The campaign to save passenger rail service was launched by Unifor and led by Local 4000, Local 100 and local union activists. They worked tirelessly with mayors, municipal councils and the public to raise awareness about the necessity of this service and to ensure that the Maritimes remained tied together and to the rest of Canada by a national passenger rail system.

"The effects of abandoning this section of track would have had a devastating impact on so many communities along the ocean route," said Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor. "It would have had a terrible impact on Via Rail workers and their families so we are pleased to see that the government has recognized the value of this service."

Via Rail uses the section of track, owned by Canadian National Railway, for its Ocean Limited service connecting communities between Montreal and Halifax. In January, CN put the 70-kilometre stretch in New Brunswick up for sale stating that it would shut down that section if it could not find a buyer. For its part, Via Rail refused to purchase the section of the trail, putting service to the Maritimes at risk.

"This decision not only saves passenger rail service to the Maritimes, but will also stabilize jobs in the region and recognizes the importance of public transit," said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director for Unifor. "Our members mobilized and were instrumental in making this happen. Our thanks also to the federal NDP Opposition for their critical support!"

"This is a great day for us because we know how important this service is to Maritimers," said Patrick Murray, representative from Unifor Local 4000. "We are proud that we played a part in making this happen and making sure that our communities stay connected."

Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 305,000 members, Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector.

SOURCE: Unifor

For further information:

Shelley Burgoyne, Communications

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