Train service to the Eastern Townships took a step closer to becoming a reality on Wednesday as local businesspeople and municipal officials met together onboard a train riding the rails between Saint-Jean-sur- Richelieu and Lac Megantic. According to meeting organizers, the event had at its heart the goal of raising support and financial resources in order to reestablish a passenger rail route in the region.
“We want to put a passenger train back on the rails between Sherbrooke and Montreal,” said François Rebello, President of Train-Hôtel inc.
“This is a project we have heard about before, but what is different this time around is that we have a company owner, John Giles, who is interested in helping to make this happen.”
Giles, the CEO of the Central Maine and Quebec Railway, thanked those present for having come along to look at the “new shiny railway.”
“15 months ago this was a fairly decayed, run-down railway, but today it is 25 miles an hour. We’ve invested a good deal of money and built up our freight business and now we are talking about adding another dimension.”
Robert Pouliot, Sherbrooke deputy mayor, explained that he and fellow city councillor Louisda Brochu were on the trip as a fact finding measure and the first step of a feasibility study on the project.
He said that the City of Sherbrooke is in support of the concept and anxious to know more.
According to Rebello, the track needs between $7-8 million in further investment to be able to run trains at the 50 miles per hour rate needed for passenger travel. He estimated that with the proper support and study, a service could come into effect as early as 2017 or 2018.