Wednesday, July 17, 2024

‘Quinte West is the best,’ says mayor. Just not for Via Rail

Photo by Logan Cadue/Kingstonist.

The council of Quinte West is continuing their battle to get Via Rail to add a stop on their new morning commuter train, and now MP Ryan Williams has gotten involved.

“This route is vital to residents of the Bay of Quinte region, as it offers rail service allowing them to travel to Toronto for work or medical appointments,” said Williams in a press release. “We have not seen this morning train in our area since before COVID. We are pleased VIA has listened to the residents in Eastern Ontario and restored this early morning train.”

Train 641 starts running on May 27, leaving Ottawa in the early morning before arriving in Belleville at 7 a.m., skipping Trenton and continuing on to its next stop in Cobourg.

“Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison always says, ‘Quinte West is the best’ and we are trying to make sure they are not overlooked,” said Williams. “Right now, commuters are left standing on the platform because VIA Rail Train 641 will not be stopping at the Trenton station.”

During Wednesday night’s council meeting, long-time railway advocate Eric Camolese appeared before council to encourage people to lobby Via Rail to add Trenton’s station to the line. Mayor Harrisson used this time to allow Councillor Steadall to bring forward a motion during public input. She responded with a notice of motion to call Via Rail to account and recognize that Trenton Junction should be one of the stops.

“Quinte Access has a vested interest to get people on the train, but they can’t get to the route to Belleville,” she said. “This will leave hundreds of residents in Quinte West without safe travel to the GTA.”

Williams reported that Via Rail has responded to his inquiries, stating that the train’s schedule “is too tight for a stop at every station and still arrive in Toronto before 9 a.m.”

Councillor O’Niel expressed his support, saying that if any stop should have been chosen, it should have been Trenton.

“I also think it should stop here; Port Hope doesn’t have the same catchment area as us. We have the County, we’ve got Stirling, we’ve got a ton of other places and it makes way more sense to stop here instead of Port Hope.”

Camolese agreed. “For them to have a double stop between Cobourg and Port Hope, 10 kilometers apart and not to include us, that’s not reasonable,” he said. “We need it more than Port Hope, that’s for sure.”

According to MP Williams, VIA Rail reps said they are meeting with Quinte West’s mayor next week to discuss the situation.

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