March 26, 2016

Repairing the railway to Port Daniel

In the Fall, McInnis Cement in Port Daniel will start production. They will need the railway to ship cement to places that do not have a seaport. Both the provincial and federal budgets have been presented, and neither mentions funding to fix the line from Caplan to Port Daniel. Worried for the future of the railway, I sent a letter to Jacques Daoust, Minister of Transport to find out what the government is going to do about it. Once the railway is open to Port Daniel, we can then work on getting VIA Rail to return to New Carlisle.

March 25, 2016

The Honourable Jacques Daoust
Minister of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transportation Electrification

Dear Mr Minister,

In May 2015 Transport Québec bought the Société de chemin de fer de la Gaspésie line from Matapédia to Gaspé for $3.9 million to pay off their debt. The government had previously supported the railway in infrastructure and operating funds. However, in 2014 the financial assistance stopped which forced the railway into bankruptcy. In taking over the line, the government had said that they will rehabilitate and maintain for five years the section between Matapédia and Caplan to serve existing freight customers and the Percé to Gaspé section for the tourist train. The part between Caplan and Percé would remain dormant but kept for future use.

McInnis Cement in Port Daniel will start production in the Fall and they will need the railway to ship cement to places without a seaport. The potential volume could be up to 2400 carloads per year. The Ministère des Transports du Québec has indicated that they need a firm commitment from potential customers prior to making the necessary and expensive repairs. Transport Québec will be making major repairs this year to the line between Matapédia and Caplan, but is strangely silent on what they plan to do on the stretch from Caplan to Port Daniel to serve the cement plant. McInnis Cement would be the railway's largest customer and the revenue generated would eliminate the railway`s need for operating subsidies from the government.

What is the government's intention? Is it going to do the necessary repairs to open up the railway to Port Daniel and keep heavy cement trucks off our highway? Will the railway be ready to serve the cement plant when they need it?

Yours sincerely,

Barry Brake
Montreal, QC

The Gaspé Spec