CANADA: Work has started on the reconstruction of a section of the Gaspé Railway in Québec, as part of a programme to restore freight and passenger trains to the Gaspé peninsula.

VIA Rail long-distance passenger trains between Montréal and Gaspé were suspended in 2011 owing to the condition of the infrastructure on the 325 km line between Matapédia and Gaspé, and withdrawn completely in 2013.

The former Canadian National branch had been spun off in the 1990s and was subsequently acquired by the regionally-owned Chemin de Fer de la Gaspésie. CFG currently operates freight trains on the 126 km between Matapédia and Caplan, pending rehabilitation of the remainder of the route, which has been weakened by erosion and coastal flooding.

Québec’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport & Sustainable Mobility Geneviève Guilbault announced on December 8 that the relocation of an erosion-damaged 1·4 km coastal section at Port-Daniel-Gascons would provide a more resilient alignment and help to protect marine habitats.

The work is due to be completed by mid-2023, enabling the restoration of services on the 76 km between Caplan and Port-Daniel-Gascons in 2024.

The provincial government has also agreed a C$19m funding package with CFG to support rehabilitation work on the final 127 km section into Gaspé.

‘Your government is doing everything possible to rehabilitate the Gaspé Railway’, Guilbault explained. ‘This upcoming work will allow us to protect our shoreline, make the rail network safer, better connect the municipalities and develop the regional economy.’