By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
No joy is resulting from efforts to advocate with VIA Rail for the return of Train 651, Northumberland County Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Moore said at this week’s Cobourg council meeting.
Moore was attending with Treasurer Glenn Dees to explain this year’s county budget, and this advocacy was listed as one of their key focuses over the past year.
As was the institution of a pilot project called Commuter Connect, which combines an innovative inter-county transportation system that transports people within local communities to a point at which they can access transportation to the Oshawa GO station – from which access to Toronto’s Union Station is a simple matter.
But before COVID, Train 651 provided direct weekday service to Toronto in a timely manner that was vital to many local commuters. It was taken out of service during the COVID-19 pandemic but – despite a guaranteed healthy ridership – was never reinstated.
The county, as well as many members of the community, have campaigned persistently to have it brought back. Asked for an update on these efforts by Councillor Randy Barber, Moore was not optimistic.
“There really isn’t much of an update – a couple of conversations about strategies we should employ to continue the advocacy, some media attention to the east from other municipalities that benefit from that service. I think their communications with Via Rail were a little disappointing,” Moore said.
Basically, she summed up, there have been no indications there will be any action taken by VIA.
Meanwhile, the Commuter Connect pilot project runs until September.