News / Halifax

On track for commuter rail? VIA eyeing service for HRM

Unsolicited proposal for service from Windsor Junction to Halifax will be presented to HRM committee on Thursday

VIA Rail is considering a commuter rail service that would run from Windsor Junction to downtown Halifax.

Metro File

VIA Rail is considering a commuter rail service that would run from Windsor Junction to downtown Halifax.

An unsolicited proposal made by VIA Rail to HRM that will be presented to a standing committee next week has re-ignited discussion about a commuter rail service.

“We’re calling it an unsolicited proposal for lack of a better word but it’s probably a pre-proposal, to be honest,” Bedford Coun. Tim Outhit said in an interview on Friday.

Outhit has long been a proponent of a commuter rail service that would connect his growing community to the downtown and ease some of its traffic woes.

He said VIA’s unsolicited proposal for a service that would run from Windsor Junction to downtown Halifax will be presented to HRM’s transportation standing committee next Thursday.

It would then go to Regional Council for approval, and from there, Outhit hopes, be approved so staff can enter into negotiations with VIA.

“They (VIA Rail) would definitely like to discuss with us the possibility of running a commuter rail service for us, several times a day into downtown and out, and maybe some mid-day service as well at substantially less cost than was anticipated by the recent (Commuter Rail Feasability) Study,” Outhit said.

Although he couldn’t get into specifics, Outhit said if it went ahead, the commuter service would likely include the same seven stops proposed in the recent commuter rail study undertaken by the municipality.

If approved, he believes the service could be up in running in a year or less.

“It’s exciting because these folks know how to run a railroad and we’ve been looking for a partner,” he said.

In addition to helping resolve some of the traffic issues facing residents in his district, Outhit said the commuter rail plan would benefit other suburban residents in addition to businesses in the downtown core.

“It’s great that we have all these nice new buildings and businesses (downtown) and I support that. But with all of this construction going on there, unless we make it easier for people to get there, they’re of no help if they’re empty,” he said.

“This would be beneficial for people stuck in traffic from Fall River to Clayton Park, and beneficial for the downtown by getting more people down there to shop and play and to work.”

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