Liberal government needs to protect rail service to Cape Breton

June 12, 2014

(New Waterford, NS) NDP MLA Frank Corbett is calling on the Liberal government to take urgent action to save the Cape Breton rail service. He is also asking if the province has started negotiations with CN Rail to fulfill a legal obligation to maintain the line the Liberals have long claimed exists.

“The rail line is crucial to Cape Breton’s economy and is a central component to both the harbour redevelopment project and the future of the Donkin mine,” said Corbett. “If Stephen McNeil decides he is going to sit on his hands and see what happens with regard to the rail line it could have a devastating impact on the region.”

Corbett made the comments shortly after learning the Liberals voted down an NDP motion to hold an emergency session of the Economic Development Committee to discuss the matter.

The Liberals have long claimed the province has a deal with CN rail which obligates the crown corporation to maintain the Cape Breton rail line in the event a private operator cannot be secured.

On July 8, 2002 in Cape Breton Post the Liberals contended, “CN made a commitment to former premier John Savage when they sold the line to short line operator Railtex in 1993 that if it did not continue to operate they would reinstitute their service here.” On April 23, 2002 the Cape Breton Post reported “the Liberal caucus has sought legal advice on the issue and contends CN is responsible to maintain the line even though it is under different management.”

Corbett is asking the government to confirm it will be entering into negotiations with CN Rail to take over the operation of the rail line and if CN is unwilling to fulfill its obligation the province will take legal action.

“I’ve been hearing about this deal the Liberals claim to have made with CN rail for over 20 years now,” said Corbett. “Given the current situation, for the sake of Cape Breton economy, I hope the Liberals were telling the truth.”