New HRM transit plan shows commuter trains on both sides of harbour

New HRM transit plan shows commuter trains on both sides of harbour

The latest draft of a new transportation plan for the Halifax Regional Municipality includes a map with two commuter rail routes — one on each side of the harbour.  

Councillors have talked about commuter rail between Windsor Junction and south-end Halifax for years. City staff are currently investigating a proposal by Via Rail.  

Sam Austin, the councillor for Dartmouth Centre, said he appreciates keeping the eastern side of the harbour in mind when it comes to commuter rail, but is not holding his breath for it to start.

"I'm glad they've identified it as potential, but I can't imagine the Dartmouth one would happen before the Halifax one," said Austin. "If Halifax turns out to be a big success, then maybe after that we can look at Dartmouth."

Dartmouth line 'not same quality'

The proposed commuter rail line on the Dartmouth side runs between Woodside and the Burnside Industrial Park. Austin said a lot of people work in Burnside, plus a community college, two ferry terminals and a large number of apartment buildings sit along the Dartmouth shoreline where the tracks are located.  

"But the track on the Dartmouth side is more limited. It winds and bends and the speeds are slower; it's not up to the same quality as the Halifax track," said Austin.

He thinks more rapid bus routes would be a better investment.  

Details of the latest draft of the integrated mobility plan will be presented at public sessions until April 27. Staff plan to
deliver a final draft to city committees and regional council in June and July.