Train petition deadline looming
Commuters’ movement seeks signatures
A grassroots petition campaign that could force the government to help fund railroad commuter improvements for Vaudreuil-Soulanges and West Island residents is nearing a September 30 deadline.
The group Train de l’Ouest, which has support from local and West Island mayors and MNAs for both regions, says its goal is to see rail services improved for commuters living in theWest Island and Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
On the website www.traindelouest.ca, the group points out the need for “regular and reliable service with trains every half hour running from 6:00 a.m. to midnight. For this, commuter trains must have a dedicated commuter line and stop sharing the rails with freight traffic.’’
And Agence métropolitaine de transport president Joël Gauthier told a group last week that the goal is not only realistic, but it could come to fruition within the next five or six years.
Gauthier made the comments while addressing mayors, community leaders, reporters and more during a meeting at the Dorval Golf Club.
He said a $676 million infusion in government fundswould allow commuters to have access to more than 80 weekday trains operating every12minutes.
Vaudreuil-Soulanges and West Island commuters currently have access to 26 trains operating only during peak hours.
Trains would run from 5:30 a.m. to midnight on dedicated tracks stretching between Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and downtown Montreal.
Train de l’Ouest points out areas such as Laval and the South Shore currently enjoy similar dedicated service and it is now time for theWest Island and off-island to have the same.
Government funding needed
At the heart of the issue is $200 million the Government of Québec has allocated in its 2010-1011 budget. Originally the money was earmarked for an Aéroport de Montréal project to help pay for an overall $600 million dedicated airport shuttle.
Those opposed to the airport project would instead like to see the $200 million transferred to the AMT and used to build a dedicated rail line from Montreal to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.
But Train de l’Ouest warns strong public support for the project is essential.
‘‘As for the government, they believe the West Island have no political alternatives and take theWest Island vote for granted no matter how hard our local MNA’s try. We have to show stronger political resolve and demand to be heard.’’
Train de l’Ouest wants to gather no less than 15, 000 signatures on online or paper petitions.
Signing the petition
The National Assembly helped the group establish an online petition in order to make it admissible before the assembly. Those wanting to sign the digital petition must log onto the website: www.traindelouest.ca and fill out a form that appears below an initial explanatory text.
A key part of the process, say organizers, is those signing the online form must ‘‘accept’’ a portion of the text called ‘‘signing conditions’’ before sending the form. They also have to reply to a message that will be sent to their in-box.
The website also allows people to email opinions or comments to provincial cabinet ministers and MNAs. Background information and the history of the issue are also included, as is a discussion page.
Meanwhile, groups are soliciting signatures on West Island and VaudreuilDorion commuter train lines. The entire petition will be presented to the National Assembly by VaudreuilMNAYvon Marcoux and Geoff Kelley, MNAfor JacquesCartier.
Rail commuters are urged to sign a petition seeking vast transportation improvements before September 30.