A tentative agreement has been reached between VIA Rail Canada and Canadian National, which will allow VIA Rail's passenger rail service to continue on the Newcastle subdivision. Under the agreement, which must be ratified by their respective boards, VIA Rail will provide funding to CN for rehabilitation work on the line between Nelson Junction and Nepisiquit Junction. Work will be done on 70.8 kilometers (44 miles) of track and represents a CA$10.2-million (US$9.3-million investment for the railroad.
As a result of this agreement, VIA Rail will be able to continue to offer its Ocean passenger rail service between Bathurst and Miramichi three days per week in each direction as part of its Montreal-Halifax service. VIA Rail will hold discussions with the province and municipalities along the subdivision to explore ways they can assist in increasing train ridership.
"Our government is committed to creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. The continuity of VIA Rail's Ocean service on this rail line in Northern New Brunswick is excellent news as it will not only benefit the users, but also each community along the route by maintaining jobs and supporting the local economy," said Canada's Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt.
In other news, the Canadian government has appointed Yves Desjardins-Siciliano as president and chief executive officer of VIA Rail.
Prior to his appointment, Desjardins-Siciliano was VIA Rail's chief corporate and legal officer and corporate secretary. Prior to joining VIA Rail in 2010, he has held executive positions, in a variety of industries, in both Montréal and Toronto.
"As Directors of VIA Rail, we are delighted that the government has chosen to lead Canada's national passenger railway, someone whose career demonstrates a breath of experiences and expertise, an intimate knowledge of our largest markets, an ability to develop new value-creation strategies and a keen understanding of public policy. He can count on our full support," said Paul Smith, chairman of the board.
Desjardins-Siciliano takes over from VIA Rail's Interim President and CEO, Steve Del Bosco. Steve will be resuming his previous role as VIA's chief commercial planning officer. Del Bosco had been in the interim position since January 4, 2014.