OTTAWA - Backbench MPs from the party that gave Canada its first transcontinental railroad appear to be in a losing, behind-the-scenes struggle over cuts at Via Rail.
The service reductions have hit smaller towns and cities, particularly in the Maritimes and southwestern Ontario, the hardest.
Some Tory MPs from the affected communities say they're concerned about the cuts, and are looking for solutions. But signs of movement from the government on the file are scarce.
The Conservative government cut the subsidy to Via Rail by $41 million over three years in the 2012 budget.
Via's reduction in service over the past several months has included cutting in half the Ocean line between Halifax and Montreal, reducing trips for the Canadian route between Toronto and Vancouver during the off-season and reducing stops in several Ontario cities.
Via Rail president Marc Laliberte says ridership was just too chronically low on some of the lines, and the Crown corporation had to make choices.
Neither Transport Minister Denis Lebel nor Minister of State Steven Fletcher were available for comment about the cuts.
Via operates at arm's length from government, but Ottawa signs off on its strategic plans.