Canada promises Gaspe line repairs

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The eastbound 'Chaleur' crosses a bridge at Grande Rivere in July 2007.
Bob Johnston
A Montreal-bound train hugs the shoreline near Perce on July 25, 2011. The $45 million will help pay to strengthen the right-of-way as well as bridges.
Bob Johnston
OTTAWA, Ontario – With Parliament elections looming on Oct. 21, the Liberal government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will spend nearly $35 million to fix the east end of the former Canadian National branch line that hosted VIA Rail Canada’s Montreal-Gaspe Train (once known as the Chaleur) until December 2011.

That is when inspections revealed serious defects in several bridges, most notably the tall structure crossing Grande Rivere near Pabos Mills, Quebec, and a curved trestle between Perce and Gaspe. After several brief resumptions over only a portion of the route to and from a connection with the Montreal-Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ocean at Matapedia, VIA suspended the Gaspe train entirely in August 2013. Coastal erosion following a December 2016 winter storm took out more right-of-way.

In 2017, Quebec’s government pledged $73 million for repairs to the now publicly-owned tracks as far as Port Daniel-Gascons, where a cement plant is located.

Now federal funding will focus on repairs to 10 segments on 79 miles from Port Daniel to the end of the line at Gaspe. The money comes from the country’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, a program designed to “help communities build the infrastructure they need to better withstand natural hazards such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and droughts,” according to a government press release.

In 2017, VIA Rail Canada spokeswoman Mariam Diaby told Trains News Wire that the company would, “resume service in the area once the tracks are deemed safe for passenger operation.” Since then, however, the stainless steel Budd sleepers, dome lounge Skyline cars, and coaches that connected with the Ocean at Matapedia have been deployed to augment some of the Ocean’s British-built Renaissance cars that have succumbed to rust and operational maladies. The equipment has also been utilized on the Winnipeg-Churchill train during whale- and polar bear-watching seasons.

Track and right-of-way repairs are expected to take more than a year, giving VIA an opportunity to figure out how and to what extent it plans to restore service.
A bridge near Gaspe that will need extensive work before line is reopened.
Bob Johnston

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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