Via Rail cutting service

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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uture of Amherst train station undetermined

Via Rail says it has yet to determine the future of the train station in Amherst. The company announced Wednesday it is cutting its Ocean route between Halifax and Montreal to just three times a week.

AMHERST – It’s still too early to tell if the historic train station in Amherst will impacted by changes to Via Rail’s Atlantic passenger service.

Union representatives were told Wednesday that the Ocean route that runs between Montreal and Halifax six times a week is being reduced to just three times per week. It’s expected the reduction will result in the loss of about 45 jobs when the cut takes effect at the end of October.

There are currently 100 employees working on the route.

Malcolm Andrews, Via Rail’s senior advisor of community relations, said it’s premature to say what is going to happen to employees and stations along the route – that is the only passenger link between Montreal and the Maritimes.

“No decisions have made about the future of that station or any of the stations up and down the line,” Andrews said from Via’s office in Montreal. “Obviously the announcement like the one today is going to affect more than the employees that are on that train. That effect is going to spread out to the stations along the route, but how exactly how has yet to be determined.”

Three people work at the station.

With the news, there has been speculation in the community about the future of the train station that opened in 1906 for the Inter-Colonial Railway. Speculation has the station either being closed or becoming an unmanned station, meaning passengers would no longer be able to embark or disembark here.

Andrews said the company is just entering into its discussions with the union and it would be incorrect to speculate.

“I can’t speculate because there is no final decision and that’s not just about Amherst, but about the whole route,” he said. “Service to all the current stations will continue and no decision has been made at this time to change that.”

Ryan Beattie operates his hairstyling business in the train station. He admitted to hearing rumours of the station’s future, but he’s not concern about his future there.

“Even if they close the station and it gets a new owner I should be safe because I have a lease with an undetermined term,” said Beattie, who has operated Hairstyles by Ryan at the station for about 18 months.

Nationally, Via Rail expects to cut 200 unionized jobs, or about nine per cent of its workforce, as the government-owned passenger rail service reduces trips across the country.

The cuts come after the federal budget in March that slashed $41 million in subsidies to Via over three years. The company said trip reductions and job losses are being driven by weak off-season demand.

It claims ridership on the Ocean has dropped by 50 per cent over 15 years.

CAW Local 4005 president Jennifer Brown said ridership is up 7.8 per cent since last year and by nearly 25 per cent in the peak season.

(With files from the Canadian Press)

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Via Rail, Inter-Colonial Railway, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Amherst, Montreal, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • jr
    July 04, 2012 - 10:13

    No , what I said is what I meant. Yes I made a spelling error to see if anyone actually ckecks these things. What is funny is that you can find my error but not be able to correct text in an article. I will admit though, it is amusing to read some of the articles as it makes the mind work to try and figure out which word should be used. It is one thing to see the odd error, but to see so many on a regular basis is unreal.

  • Cumberlander
    July 03, 2012 - 09:56

    JR: Shouldn't your wording "It is actually embarassing to see so many in a small aricle" READ "It is embarassing with so many grammar errors in a small news article".?

  • call me cynical
    July 01, 2012 - 10:39

    as if northern nova scotia hasn`t been isolated enough,now this. soon, the notion of the maritimes being nothing more than a backwoods entity will be complete.

  • Cumberland
    June 30, 2012 - 13:16

    I can just imagine the conversation being held in the VIA Rail boardroom that might go something like this: 'if residents can drive to Moncton to board an airplane, why can't they drive to Moncton to board a train?'.

  • jr
    June 28, 2012 - 07:47

    Please, please, please, correct the grammar mistakes. It is actually embarrassing to see so many in a small article. Knowing that people outside of our area may read this and what they think people have for an education is alrming.

    • Spellcheck
      July 02, 2012 - 18:45

      Gee JR -- just imagine what a total mess these articles would be if they didn't have Spellcheck turned on eh? Those high mucky-mucks up in Ontario would really get a laugh then! By the way what does alrming mean?? Thats a new word to me!!