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: https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20170901004
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: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/cape-breton-rail-line-st-peters-junction-province-deal-1.4271792