May 15, 2015

Potential traffic for the railway

The Québec government has bought the line from Matapédia to Gaspé, but will keep the Caplan to Percé part dormant. Although this is a good first step, the future of the entire railway is still not assured. In case the Minister of Transport was not aware of the potential traffic on that part, I thought I would let him know.

May 15, 2015

The Honourable Robert Poëti
Minister of Transport

Dear Mr Minister,

It is good news that Transports Québec has acquired the railway between Matapédia and Gaspé and will rehabilitate and maintain the sections between Matapédia and Caplan, and between Percé and Gaspé. This ensures the continued operation of the railway for its existing freight customers and the tourist train. The part between Caplan and Percé is to remain dormant as the Minister says that there is not enough potential traffic to justify the work needed on the four bridges that need to be fixed. However, the long term survival of the railway is dependent on it growing its business in order to be financially self sufficient.

There are already some potential customers east of Caplan. The sawmill in St. Elzéar has in the past expressed interest in shipping lumber and wood chips by rail. If I remember correctly, last year they wanted the Gaspésie Railway to set up loading facilities in the New Carlisle yard. The cement plant in Port Daniel will be starting production by 2016-17 and they have also expressed interest in using the railway. One can see many truck and trailer combinations of logs going west on the highway. These should be going by rail as it is safer and would save wear and tear on our highways which are maintained by Transports Quebéc. LM Wind Power in Gaspé could ship by rail. It is sending 54 blades by truck this year to Ontario. Another customer, Via Rail, would return if the track is safe. First to New Carlisle where the train could be turned and then to Gaspé when that stretch is open. VIA Rail suspended this service on September 17, 2013. According to VIA`s 2013 annual report, ridership (including the replacement bus service) for the year up to then was 15,907. That would be the equivalent of around 22,000 per year.

If all this potential traffic is not enough, what does the government consider is enough to make the necessary repairs to save our railway?

Yours sincerely,

Barry Brake
Montreal, QC

The Gaspé Spec