Via Rail is considering new regional routes to service Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with a daily run between Moncton and Halifax. 

Both routes would be same-day returns. One would provide service to communities between Campbellton, N.B., and Moncton, the other would run from Moncton to Halifax.

“This is clearly a step in the right direction,” said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, president and CEO of Via Rail. “We're hoping to have the service in place no later than the school year start which is August and September of next year for university students and maybe as early as next summer.”

Desjardins-Siciliano says Via Rail would need to get permission to use the Canadian National Railway track. Via Rail is also still trying to gauge interest to the proposed service that would run Monday to Friday.

“I think having a quick way into Halifax or a convenient route into Halifax would be nice,” said Desjardins-Siciliano.

Anne Poirier-Basque, the executive director of the Downtown Moncton Centre-ville, sees benefits beyond leisure travel to five days a week train service.

“Anyone who wants to conduct business and doesn't want necessarily to drive up and back from Halifax, it would be a definite benefit for them,” she said.

As recently as two years ago, train service was on life support.

“It was pretty grim indeed because the axe was hanging over the line on which the service operates,” said Ted Bartlett of Transport Action Atlantic.

The former provincial Conservative government came through with $25 million to maintain the line, which could now be the foundation for the growth of rail service.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.