The saga of the efforts by Canadian National to discontinue passenger service on the former Algoma Central has taken another turn after the federal government agreed to resume paying $2.2 million to underwrite the service that links Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario.
The funding will keep the tri-weekly train operating through March 31, 2015. It had been scheduled to end on April 29 when a one month reprieve ended.
The federal government had told CN last fall that it would end the Regional and Remote Passenger Rail Services Class Contribution Program grant that had helped keep the train ion operation.
At the time, the federal government said that the route no longer met the criteria as a remote service, but neither CN nor Transport Ministry officials revealed the withdrawal news until late January of this year.
The news brought howls of protests from owners of remote lodges, trappers, and other businesses that said they would suffer a hardship due to he loss of the train.
They applied political pressure on the federal government to reverse its decision.
Though CN had extended the deadline to the end of April, Jeff Watson, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, told a Parliament member from the region on April 4 that the decision by CN to discontinue the service is “a business decision made by a private company. Railway companies are private entities that make their own decisions concerning their operations and which services and routes are offered to their customers.”
“The government is pleased to extend funding for another year to continue operation of [Canadian National’s] passenger rail service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst. The funding will give local stakeholders time to explore long-term solutions for passenger rail service in the area,” the federal government said in a statement.