Canada will fund 60% of Lac-Megantic rail bypass project

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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Government of Canada

A 12.8-km (7.9-mile) route will allow trains to bypass the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, were a fiery train derailment left 47 people dead in July 2013.

Canada will fund 60 percent of the estimated CA$133-million (US$104-million) project, which would be US$62.4 million with the province of Quebec agreeing to fund the remaining 40 percent. The federal government has also reached an agreement with the Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQ), the project proponent, which will also own and operate the new rail infrastructure.

CMQ closed on the acquisition of the rail assets of the former Montreal, Maine & Atlantic in June 2014 and undertook a multi-year, multi-million capital improvement program.

“Hope and resilience have come to define the people of Lac-Mégantic. For nearly five years, they have worked incredibly hard to recover and rebuild, and create a better future for their community. Today, we take another step forward. And while we know there are some wounds that can never heal, we sincerely hope this new rail bypass marks a new beginning for the people of Lac-Mégantic,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In January, the federal government said it would provide financial support of the bypass project, but did not share specific numbers. Quebec’s environmental review board, BAPE, published a study in July 2017 identifying several options for a possible bypass route and provided the estimated cost.

The province of Quebec says the chosen solution is the “most advantageous, both socially and technically and financially. It was developed with a thorough approach and will ensure the well-being of the community over the long term while ensuring that local businesses can continue to benefit from adequate rail transportation.”

“The construction of this bypass is much more than a conventional rail infrastructure project. This is an exceptional response to an exceptional situation, resulting from an extremely painful moment in the history of modern Quebec. With this announcement, the Government of Quebec has just told the Méganticoises and Méganticois that we are at their side,” said Quebec Prime Minister Philippe Couillard.