Expanding train service in Lanark County

Posted on: May 23, 2017

By Alexandra Mazur and Matthew Behrens

There’s much talk of transportation infrastructure in the spring air. Both the federal government and local municipalities appear interested in expanding Via Rail service to include a link from Peterborough through Perth to Smiths Falls.

The line would hook up with the Ottawa-Toronto corridor and provide more frequent rail service to the national capital. While frequent Via Rail service would certainly seem a welcome commuting alternative during treacherous winter weather and for those who increasingly feel Highway 417 resembles a rush hour parking lot, what would it take for local residents to regularly park their cars and leave the driving to someone else? Hometown News reporters Alexandra Mazur and Matthew Behrens took to the streets to talk train schedules, fares, discounts, and incentives.

Audrey Kealey

“Why did they forget about Carleton Place? Saving on time and bucking the traffic, it would be a relaxing way to get into Ottawa, especially with bad weather. Let somebody else do the driving. I think they could come up with a reasonable rate for frequent users too.” – Audrey Kealey

“I use Via Rail a lot. Going to Southern Ontario and now Montreal and it’s wonderful, it would be amazing if it came through Perth, and think what it would do for Perth. They wouldn’t have to do too much for me, I mean, the simplest little stop off, a tiny station, look at Smiths Falls, it just has a little stop in area, that’s perfect.” – Jane Dugdale

“ I think it would be very beneficial for Perth. It would make us kind of a beacon, if you will. Some people flock to Smiths Falls as a destination, so folks have more time, and they say I’m going to go around town. Now there would be another option for potential tourists. I would use it. I occasionally visit family, and I use the Via Rail line. I would prefer leaving Perth then travelling to Smiths Falls, travelling 20 minutes to leave out of Smiths Falls.” – Anthony Joseph Merrow

“I am retired, I was not born in Canada, I was born in Cuba, but I am a Canadian citizen. I love the town. Of course I would appreciate a train coming through town because sometimes I need to travel, I travel a lot. Going to Toronto is complicated by bus you know, and taking a car is complicated, so having a train going there to Ottawa would be nice. For me, an old guy, trains are the best. They’re secure, no cars around, even in the winter time, the train doesn’t care about snow, so yeah, I would use it.” – Juan Jorje Alfonse

“I went on vacation to Portugal two weeks ago. We had to go to Smiths Falls, then to Toronto, it was just a hassle. It turned a 10-hour day into a 17-hour day. A long long flight, plus we had to go to Smiths Falls on top of that. I would 100 per cent use Via.”  – James Ross

“I used it when I travelled when I was in school. I took the train all the time, so I would go to Smiths Falls and my mom would come to Smiths Falls to come pick me up so it wouldn’t take too much for me to use it, it would be super useful.” – Danaka Thompson

Mike Fletcher

“I’m a big fan of rail travel and I’ve always enjoyed it, so I am excited by the idea of commuter rail, but the fact that they don’t drop you in downtown Ottawa has always been their biggest challenge. I can’t see myself going to Peterborough, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t build it, because it’s important and efficient. Also, does VIA put on 20 trains a day and build the traffic, or do you wait until people show up at specific times and build your schedule around that?” Mike Fletcher.

This article first appeared in the May issue of Hometown News.