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Future of Rail-based Transit in Halifax

The future of Rail-based transit in Halifax has been a much debated issue. The possibility of streetcars or light rail transit in Halifax has been proposed by many but the city has no real interest in implementing such service. A more plausible service in Halifax would be a commuter rail service to suburban areas of HRM, although this too is not something the city is interested in.

In May 2008, Metro Transit released a commuter rail "fact sheet"1 that stated why commuter rail was not viable in Halifax. A common myth is that commuter rail would be fairly inexpensive to implement as we already have a fairly useful rail line on the Halifax peninsula that could easily run from Bedford to Halifax. The problem with this line is that the line is single tracked for the majority of it's length, and the speed limit on much of the line is 15-20 mph due to grade crossings, yard movements, and sight distances. The fact sheet also points out that the terminus of the line would be the VIA Rail station, which is inconvenient for the majority of downtown workers.

Were cost not an issue, a relatively useful commuter rail line could be built from downtown Halifax to Stanfield International Airport, with a stop in Bedford. This would require the building of a spur line from the airport connecting to the mainline, as well as construction of a train station at the airport. Additionally, many upgrades would need to be made to the line on the Halifax peninsula to allow a higher speed limit.

Notes:

  1. Commuter Rail Information Sheet on Metro Transit website.


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