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VIA RAIL Dreams! Peterborough to Ottawa

PERTH COURIER -  Desmond Devoy - A new, electric VIA Rail corridor starting in Peterborough could connect Perth and Smiths Falls.

Perth Mayor John Fenik revealed at the very end of the Tuesday, Aug. 30 council meeting that he had been in talks that morning with Lt. Cmdr. (retired) Jacques Fauteux, director of government and community relations with the office of Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, the president and CEO of VIA Rail Canada.

“It’s not at the federal level yet for approval,” said Fenik during the media questions section of the agenda. “They want to establish a link.”

VIA Rail Canada, according to Fenik, has been canvassing politicians all along the proposed corridor, and Fenik said he intends to establish a mayors' coalition to make this proposal happen. He promised to meet with Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

“I see it as being good for Perth and Smiths Falls,” said Fenik.

Fenik said that in his preliminary discussions with the company, “high speed trains were taken off of the table,” since they require costly infrastructure to accommodate trains travelling more than 200 kilometres per hour. “High speed would be too expensive to put in.”

The Windsor-Toronto-Montreal-Quebec City corridor, which includes Ottawa rail links to Kingston and Montreal, is a heavily travelled band of steel.

“They have to invest in other lines,” said Fenik. He envisioned that there could be as many as four trains daily between Perth and Smiths Falls, which would then make onward rail travel to Ottawa possible, which could facilitate students going to university or college in Ontario’s second largest city, or workers on their way there, too.

“From Perth to Smiths Falls, you can get anywhere,” said Fenik. The plan is for VIA to increase ridership…they keep pushing the frequency.”

The mayor will be seeing support for a resolution in principle from his council at the next committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

During the meeting with Fauteux, Fenik told council that “this community would unequivocally embrace a railway,” while adding that “we would love to be a hub for servicing (trains).”

The issue of train whistles has long been a gnawing issue among Perth residents, and Fenik admitted that while the issue was not at the top of the agenda, it was discussed, and he discovered that VIA Rail trains may be exempt from the whistle rule.

Fenik said he could see this becoming a reality “within a short period,” starting with seeking federal approval within the next two quarters (by early spring of 2017), with a possible build within the next three to five years.

Fenik floated the idea of even building a train station out of limestone, made to look like the old 18th century train station the town used to have.

“I will do whatever I can to make this happen,” said Fenik, promising he would be calling in political favours. “(I will) go to the ends of the earth to make this happen.”


  1. They should have never taken the tracks out at Bonarlaw which used to be called the Diamond where CP and CN used to cross each other , In the 1950;s it was booming , Now its a place for 4-- wheeling


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