Province to support keeping Cape Breton rail line in place

An orange and yellow train with bright headlights heads directly towards the viewer under cloudy fall skies.
One of the last trains that ran to Sydney prior to the discontinuance of service is seen making its way across the now dormant rail line in Cape Breton. Thanks to an agreement with the Province of Nova Scotia, the tracks will be staying in place for at least another year. (Photo by Tim Hayman)


The Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia (CBNS) Railway has reached a deal with the Province of Nova Scotia to keep its rail line through Cape Breton in place for at least another year. The province will pay CBNS up to $60,000 per month to cover valid expenses, including salaries, insurance, security and building maintenance directly attributed to the line between St. Peter’s Junction and Sydney. Repairs or improvements to the line will not be reimbursed under this agreement. In exchange, CBNS will not apply to abandon the line for the next year. It’s not yet clear whether this agreement would be extended on an annual basis.

From the provincial news release: ““This agreement preserves the existing rail line, which is a key component of the proposed container terminal in Sydney,” said Geoff McLellan, Minister of Business. “Government continues to work together with businesses, community and municipal leaders on economic development related to Cape Breton. Strong transportation links are a key component of building a stronger economy.

From CBNS, in the same release: ““We are pleased to work with the Government of Nova Scotia to allow economic development initiatives like the proposed container terminal unfold,” said Louis Gravel, president of Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway. “We would like nothing more than to one day see a thriving operating railway between Port Hawkesbury and Sydney.”

The full press release can be found here:

Any action from the province to help maintain this rail line is valuable, and it maintains the possibility that it may once again see trains at some point in the future. Losing the right of way and basic railway infrastructure would all but guarantee that trains would never again run across Cape Breton. However, this agreement will not do anything directly to restore service on the line, nor does it seem to suggest that there is any thought of re-opening the line unless the proposed container terminal in Sydney goes ahead.

Regardless, it is a better outcome for the time being, and provides both a glimmer of hope and an indication that the province has some level of interest in preserving the rail link for the future.

A news article on the announcement can be found here:

Scotia Rail Development Society continues efforts to save Cape Breton rail line

The Scotia Rail Development Society (SRDS) was set up last year in response to plans from the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway to shut down and abandon its rail line from St. Peter’s Jct. to Sydney on Cape Breton. The SRDS has been actively campaigning to prevent the removal of the line, holding public meetings, gathering signatures on a petition, and looking for solutions to help keep the line in place.

Transport Action Atlantic continues to support the efforts of the SRDS to preserve the Cape Breton rail line, and supports many of the same principles regarding the role that rail should play in the transportation network of the province.

The SRDS, in association with the Sustainable Transportation Action Team (STAT) of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, has issued the following position statement regarding the railway and their ongoing efforts:



Scotia Rail Development Society logo

Cape Breton’s Contribution to Paris Agreement on Climate Change

The Scotia Rail Development Society (SRDS) is calling for Nova Scotians to encourage their MP to support the railway on Cape Breton Island. SRDS, aligned with the Sustainable Transportation Action Team (STAT) with the Ecology Action Centre, is advocating to keep the railway.

Railways are a driving force in the economy offering the cheapest and cleanest form of ground transportation. For almost twenty years railway companies have been allowed to regulate themselves and abandon lines with almost no government intervention or concern for the communities they serve. There is blame on the railway companies as well, being profit driven, forcing traffic to trucks because it is cheaper for them to truck it on tax-payer funded highways than to run a train on lower traffic lines that they, the owner, have to maintain. Is this really better for the communities, economy and the environment? How about protecting Nova Scotia taxpayers’ investments in our highways, by diverting more truck traffic to the railways? The rail could help trucking companies that face driver shortages and in the long run, unstable fuel prices. Trailers or containers on flatcars also enable trucking firms to offer their drivers shorter runs so that they can be at home with their families instead of sleeping in their overnight cabs.  Continue reading “Scotia Rail Development Society continues efforts to save Cape Breton rail line”

A glimmer of hope for Cape Breton rail?

An orange and yellow train with bright headlights heads directly towards the viewer under cloudy fall skies.
Could the CBNS run to Sydney once again? (Photo by Tim Hayman)

Just as the date approaches that the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia (CBNS) Railway can apply to abandon the Sydney Subdivision, there’s a little glimmer of hope that the line might not be quite dead yet. On November 19th, Harbor Port Development Partners (HPDP) and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) issued a press release announcing that they are in discussions with CBNS to provide rail service for any future port developments in Sydney.

The HPDP was established to develop and market a deep water container port in Sydney, along with an adjacent logistics park. HPDP was also charged by CBRM with assembling a consortium of marine and financial service partners to realize this project. For such a project to be a success, securing suitable transportation options is an important step: hence the decision to reach out to the CBNS. There’s no doubt that a rail link would be extremely valuable for this sort of project.

Continue reading “A glimmer of hope for Cape Breton rail?”