All Aboard – Help Save Our Train!

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ACR Passenger Rail Service

I realize that at an initial glance of this story, the first thing that may come to mind is… “hey I thought Sault Online is all about Feel Good Stories in our Community”. It is our sincerest desire, that together with your help, we can make the outcome just that!

Recently CN Rail announced that effective April 1st, 2014 they will no longer be providing passenger services for the section of track running between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst due to a recent Federal Government decision to cut subsidies. How will this affect you?

Well in additon to further fueling an already high unemployment rate in our area, significantly higher than that of the National average, this simply serves as yet another devasting blow to our tourism industry and already challenged economies. Tour operators, hunting and fishing lodges, motels & hotels, restaurants, outfitters, and the list just goes on and on.

psgrssooWhat about all the local and out of town families who depend on the train as the only means to access their camps? They stand to lose very significant investments, many that span generations! What about the people who depend on the train as a means to access health care and other vital services?

The following is an amazing video created by a member of a family who has been leasing a property on Oba Lake mile 210 since the 1960’s. They use this camp year round but mostly from May to October and at a fairly hefty train ticket price. Extended family members also use the property 2/3 times a year. A considerable effort was put forth in researching and producing the content of this video so please take the time to watch it.

The following was recently reported in Northern Ontario Business entitled “Snow train cancelled in Sault” …less than three months ago!:

agawa-canyon-snow-trainJohn Orr, CN’s vice-president of the eastern region, said the company is “committed to Sault tourism and will focus its resources on promoting and growing ridership on the summer and fall tours where we have seen success.”

Ridership on the summer and fall tours has increased by more than 10 per cent over the last two years, which the company attributes to refurbished cars offering a higher level of enjoyment and passenger satisfaction.

“CN is very pleased by the success of the summer and fall excursion trains,” Orr said. “Working with our partner, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, we will continue to invest in the promotion and delivery of this featured excursion train service.”

Confused? I’m with you!!!

I know what you’re most likely thinking… “how can I possibly help?”. You’d be surprised at what can be accomplished by simply uniting our voices! To start, simply take a few seconds of your time to sign the following online petition.

UPDATE: There are a fair number of comments being left as people are signing this petition. Comments and signatures collected to date may be viewed here.

In addition to the support of local media, elected officials (at all levels), municipalities, organizations, businesses and fellow Community members like yourself, this story is reaching well beyond our borders. Here are just a few examples:

Northern Ontario Business | CN to Cut Passenger Service to Hearst
Forbes | CN Rail Cuts Access To Small Businesses: Bill Gates Is The Major Shareholder
CBC | Subsidy cut spells end to Sault-Hearst passenger train service
Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario | Feds & CN to Discontinue The ACR Passenger Train Service
Cochrane TimesPost | Algoma Rail passenger service closing
Michigan Association of Railway Passengers | More about the cancellation of passenger service on the Algoma Central Railway

A simple Google query will yield results from media around the world who have picked up this story.

For more information and to offer additional support, please visit the CAPT (Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains) website at www.captrains.ca

Want to do more? Voice your concerns with your local members of parliment and feel free to attend one of the scheduled town meetings:

Sault Ste. Marie Town Hall Meeting: Wed. Feb. 19 at 7:30 pm in the Civic Centre
Wawa Town Hall Meeting: Thurs. Feb. 20 at 10:00 am in the Michipicoten Memorial Community Centre
Hearst Town Hall Meeting: Thurs. Feb. 20 at 8:00 pm in the Companion Hotel

Everyone here at SaultOnline.com is very passionate about Saving Our Train and we will continue to offer support until our voices have been heard loud & clear!

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