Hughes Calls on Government to Commit to Passenger Rail

Ottawa – With the Ontario government’s divestment in passenger rail services for Northern Ontario, Carol Hughes says there is a role for the federal government to play in fostering the transportation option for the region.

Speaking in the House of Commons Tuesday, the MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing promoted the many benefits of passenger rail as she made the case for more services in northern and rural areas.

“In recent years, passenger rail has fallen on tough times,” said Hughes. “Not because it isn’t cost effective, convenient, or environmentally beneficial, but because governments in Canada have continually downgraded their commitment to this particular form of transportation. “

Hughes promoted the positive effect that passenger rail has on local economies noting that the benefits aren’t just limited to rail jobs.

“For many people rail has been their preferred or only form of public transport available. Rail adds value to the region and helps anchor local economies,” said Hughes. “For every job created by the railway there is an additional job created in the region. “

She explained how the loss of ONR passenger services coupled with across the board route reductions at VIA rail are proving difficult for passengers and businesses that rely on the service.

“Less frequent trains mean fewer customers,” said Hughes.  “What may seem like a small decision for people with options – like those who live in larger centres – is earth shattering in towns like Hornepayne.”

Hughes showed how grassroots groups are actively promoting the passenger rail option and are providing leadership that is missing from the government.

“While the government is reducing services to VIA routes, groups like the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains are trying to revive them,” said Hughes.  “Will this government jump on board and create another success story by committing to restore passenger rail and preserving the infrastructure needed to grow this in the future?”