Train pe­ti­tion dead­line loo­ming

Com­mu­ters’ mo­ve­ment seeks si­gna­tures

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

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.train­de­, 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.train­de­ 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.

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