TORONTO – Around the world there is a quiet revolution brewing. Everywhere except Canada, that is. It’s based on shared principles and cuts across all political divides by uniting disparate communities through a single, common goal.
No, it’s not a religion, faith or creed. It wants a return to railways as an efficient way to move people and produce as modern roads and skies become more crowded by the day.
You can find new railways being built in Africa and Asia, Europe and the United States. Some are for fast passenger movement and more and more involve dedicated freight lines.
If this transport revolution is ever to reach critical mass here in Canada, a country that has lost more than 10,000 kilometres of track since 1990 in places as far apart as Vancouver Island and Quebec, it will need to start in the heavily populated province of Ontario.
The Northern & Eastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) is a lobby group dedicated to that goal. It launched a major push Monday to reawaken Canadians to the benefit of rail transport.
Members say concern about rising fuel and road maintenance costs, the need to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and provide the transportation infrastructure necessary for economic development, drives their call for policy makers to return to the values of 100 years ago when steel rails pulled the nation together as one.
“Look back to early last century and Canada was a world leader in rail development,” said Dr. Linda Savory Gordon, Professor Emerita at Algoma University and NEORN member.
“This is a huge country that could only be made to work by binding it together with steel ties. We seem to have lost that vision. Maybe it is time to catch up with the rest of the world and start renewing our rail infrastructure.”
Savory Gordon singles out Ontario as a growing province, rich in population density and major cities, that is counter intuitively closing down rail lines at an unprecedented rate.
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