Sandy Imrie and Kim Hedges, mother and daughter duo from Burlington, Ont., travelled to the country’s east coast for an adventure that was supposed to include taking the train home from Halifax to Toronto.
They’re getting an adventure, but not the one they had hoped for. They learned yesterday afternoon while waiting to board their train at the Halifax VIA Rail station that the connecting train they’re supposed to catch in Quebec could be cancelled due to a potential strike by locomotive engineers and yardmasters.
“We’re supposed to get on the Friday midnight train, so I don’t think that will be possible,” 28-year-old Hedges said. “If it happens, then we don’t have a way home.”
Imrie added VIA Rail staff promised “to take care of us,” including refunds for the train trip they could end up missing. Hedges said they were told a coach bus would be provided, but worried they may have to pay more money to fly home.
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the union representing the 350 Via Rail Inc. workers, said yesterday in a news release its members have voted 91.2 per cent in favour of a strike that will start tomorrow at 1 p.m. ATD if a tentative agreement isn’t reached.
“Two and a half years have passed since negotiations began and VIA’s tactics have left the Teamsters very little choice but to issue a strike notice,” the union’s national office said.
VIA Rail spokeswoman Claude Arsenault said yesterday from Montreal that negotiations have been ongoing since Monday.
She said a list of trains that will be cancelled Friday if workers start walking the picket lines is already available at www.viarail.ca. “Any passenger who was to board a train before noon (EST) on Friday will get to destination.”
“We’re doing all we can so that (travellers) are inconvenienced as little as possible.” she said.