Masonry repairs should soon be getting underway at the Chatham VIA Rail station, together with other repairs to the stations in Sarnia, London and Brantford.
Speaking in Windsor on August 30, 2022 to announce the government’s intent to appoint an external consultant to study improvements to passenger rail services in SW Ontario, Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra confirmed that part of the $42.8 million of new funding over fours years announced in the spring budget would be allocated to repairs at these stations.
The frost and salt damage to the Chatham station’s brickwork is an issue that Transport Action brought to the attention of VIA Rail in 2019, and sadly the deterioration of the station accelerated significantly in the intervening winters. We have also highlighted the need to renew the flaking paint on the Woodstock station building before that cosmetic damage allows water penetration and costly masonry damage.
Chatham station, built in 1879 and Woodstock, built in 1885, both by the Great Western Railway, are designated heritage stations, as in Sarnia, opened in 1891 by the Grand Trunk together with the inauguration of the first St. Clair River Tunnel. Treasury Board does a disservice to passengers and taxpayers if it does not allow VIA Rail to fully fund station maintenance each year, because maintenance deficits for heritage structures like these grows exponentially if left unaddressed.
Over the past decade, VIA Rail has invested in repairs and upgrades to the London station; carried out an interior refit to provide fully accessible washrooms in Chatham; and undertaken a restoration of the Sarnia station building.
More photos of the maintenance deficit at Chatham station: