Rail­way sup­port needed now

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

The Sco­tia Rail Devel­op­ment So­ci­ety is right to call for general pub­lic con­cern and vig­i­lance about the fate of the rail­way ser­vice in Cape Bre­ton.

So much about the fu­ture devel­op­ment of the is­land is now linked to the op­er­a­tion of an ef­fi­cient rail­road. We need to rally the idea in the spirit of a finest hour so as to move for­ward.

It should not be sur­pris­ing that the post-in­dus­trial age of devel­op­ment for Cape Bre­ton should now re­quire the re­birth of a mode of trans­porta­tion so vi­tal dur­ing the best of times for coal and steel. The fu­ture in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion

of our har­bour de­mands the most that a rail­way can of­fer. It also de­mands the power of a com­mu­nity’s per­sis­tent ‘will’ to make it hap­pen.

It is not as if we have no his­tor­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence with suc­cess­ful rail­way man­age­ment. The Syd­ney and Louisbourg Rail­way, the pre­cur­sor of the Devco Rail­way, was al­ways de­scribed as “the big­gest lit­tle rail­road in Canada”, boast­ing more ton­nage per mile than any other rail­way in the coun­try. Nova Sco­tia rail­way his­to­rian H.B. Jefferson summed up the S&L as “A mar­vel­lous last-chance bo­nanza” – per­haps a pre­mo­ni­tion of what could hap­pen today.

From coal ton­nage to con­tainer ton­nage is no longer a leap of faith in the mod­ern world of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness. Nor is it one for an is­land ide­ally sit­u­ated for 21st cen­tury com­merce and trade. It just re­quires us to say yes to make it hap­pen.

But it also re­quires us to de­mand that the rail in­fra­struc­ture be­tween St. Peter’s junc­tion and Syd­ney be pro­tected as a pub­lic in­ter­est and a pub­lic right. And we must never per­mit our­selves to get in this po­si­tion again with as­sets so vi­tal to the fu­ture of the is­land. Jim Guy Syd­ney

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