Rail service in NB at risk if freight numbers don't pick up soon

Rail service between Moncton and Campbellton could end up a thing of the past if there isn't an increase in traffic over the next few years.

Part of an agreement CN signed with the former Tory government says the company can drop the deal if freight numbers fall below 2012 levels for two consecutive years.

Transportation Minister Bill Fraser calls the clause "troubling" and says VIA passenger service could suffer if CN, who owns and maintains the tracks, were to pull out of the deal.

CN is set to measure freight numbers against 2012 levels in 2019.

Fraser says a committee has been formed to deal with the matter and that Opportunities NB plans to hire a full-time consultant to liaise with CN.

A number of northern New Brunswick businesses rely on freight service, including the Port of Belledune as well as the local peat moss industry.

Ottawa had contributed $10.2 million towards the Moncton to Campbellton line a few years ago, however the funds were used for upkeep rather than improvements.

(with files from CBC)