Railway support needed now
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