Bill Belliveau is making the case for high speed rail around New Brunswick. Live in St. Stephen, work in Saint John. Live in Miramichi, work in Moncton, etc. Belliveau is a thoughtful guy and mostly makes sense. This idea also has some merit in the long term but as I have said before with the exception of highways – governments in New Brunswick rarely build infrastructure out front of growth. When was the last time the government invested in rail? How about ports? Even airport investments are done begrudgingly.
High speed rail around the province would only cost something like five years’ worth of annual EI payments in New Brunswick. I have no idea what the real number would be but we spend $700 million in a typical year on EI in New Brunswick mostly as a seasonal wage supplement and I figure that $3.5 billion would go a long way towards the cost of a high speed rail system.
As Belliveau speaks, I hear bureacrats all over Fredericton shuddering. The idea of building 1,100 kms worth of track from Edmundston to Tracadie down to Moncton and Saint John and then down to St. Stephen and up to Edmundston is a frighteningly expensive concept with huge annual subsidies to run it forever.
I think we need to have a serious economic renewal that generates thousands of new jobs around the province. Then we can start thinking again about how to manage growth rather than how to manage decline.