March 12, 2014

Do not reroute the Ocean.

VIA Rail is considering rerouting the Ocean from northern New Brunswick to CN’s main route through Edmundston. I want to let Lisa Raitt the Minister of Transport know that it would be a big mistake.

March 12, 2014

The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport

Dear Minister,

VIA Rail has mentioned that it was considering rerouting the Ocean on CN’s other route to the Maritimes via Edmundston. This would be a big mistake as it doesn’t make any business sense at all. The route goes through a lightly populated area of New Brunswick. According to the latest census, the only places on this route with more than 5,000 people are Edmundston and Grand Falls, NB for a total of around 28,000 persons. This is in sharp contrast to the would be abandoned route, with the cities of Rivière-du-Loup, Rimouski, Mont-Joli QC, and Campbellton, Bathurst, and Miramichi NB, with a combined total of 165,000 persons. As with all long distance trains, a large portion of the Ocean’s clientele is going to or from its intermediate points. This reroute would cause a big reduction in ridership. VIA keeps its passenger numbers at individual stations a secret, but I’m sure Transport Canada has access to them.

VIA Rail’s last four quarterly reports (4th quarter 2012 and the first 3 quarters of 2013) state that the passenger revenue for these 12 months for the Ocean is $9 million. Even a modest reduction in ridership of one third would result in almost a $10 million shortfall in passenger revenues over 3 years. So instead of investing $10 million for 15 years to keep the current route open through northern New Brunswick, VIA will have a revenue shortfall of $50 million over the same period of time. I call on the Minister to intervene with VIA Rail and make the right business decision and keep the current route and its proven patronage.

Yours truly,

Barry Brake
Montreal, QC

Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North
Yvon Godin, MP for Acadie-Bathurst
The Gaspé Spec