Jack’s Walk


The tracks at Corner of the Beach, about 15 minutes outside of Perce, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Lack of routine maintenance now equals expensive major repairs, ©voyager, all rights reserved

When my husband was young there were daily trains going to Perce, a little town at the end of the Gaspe Peninsula. The train brought supplies and tourists and was the main form of transportation for residents of the town to get Quebec City and Montreal for specialist doctors, hospitals, shopping and schools. Over the years the trains started coming less often and finally in August of 2013 the train stopped coming at all. Today train service will only take you as far east as  Matapedia and good luck getting farther east from there because even the buses have stopped going to Perce. It’s all about economics. More people drive nowadays and there is an airport in Gaspe that handles a lot of supply and tourist traffic. Also, track maintenance is expensive and everybody thinks somebody else should pay for it. The tracks in this photo were a vital part of life in the Perce area for just about 100 years. When I first started coming here 20+ years ago we used to wave at the trains from the beach as they passed us by.  I miss that.


  1. Jazzlet says

    That is sad. In the UK there were enormous cuts to that sort of route in the 60s under Beeching’s plan to rationalise the railways; they did need rationalisation as parts were duplicated where the private companies that built them were competing for passengers. However Beeching also cut a lot of small local routes that had been used for taking produce (and people) into towns, putting that produce on to the roads that at the time didn’t have adequate capacity for the increased traffic, which in turn led to a lot of road widening, upgrading, and building. There are places in the UK where enthusiasts have re-opened rail routes, usualy with steam engines pulling the trains, and managed to do so at a profit by providing communities with services that work for them not just for the company’s convenience.

  2. voyager says

    That track will never be used again and it would be a very long time before anyone noticed if some went missing. Just saying.

  3. voyager says

    There was a group who opened a short route on this track a few years ago. They ran it as a tourist ride of a few hours duration around the tip of the peninsula and it came complete with guide services and a gourmet meal. They only lasted one season and there’s been no other interest. They might have lasted if they’d met the needs of the community instead of catering to tourist traffic.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    It’s sad to see railways get abandoned.

    About ten years ago, one local entrepreneur in Salla in Finnish Lapland stole 1,7 km (a mile and a bit) of railway track between Kelloselkä railway station and Russian border with the intention of selling it. He got a 9 month prison sentence and had to pay 50 000 € worth of damages.

    The Moscow Armistice treaty at the end of the WWII obliged Finland to build a railway to the border, but Soviets/Russians never connected the line to their network. The railway between Kelloselkä and the border was never really used, while the railway west from Kelloselkä was used for transporting timber to a small extent before it was deemed unprofitable.

  5. says

    About ten years ago, one local entrepreneur in Salla in Finnish Lapland stole 1,7 km (a mile and a bit) of railway track between Kelloselkä railway station and Russian border with the intention of selling it.

    They always come down extra hard on people who steal track -- because sometimes the track is not ‘disused’ yet. It can be awkward.

    I’d never steal any track, but mostly because it’s pretty hard to move even a small chunk. It’s about 40lbs/foot. It’d also be really hard to explain away the oxy/acetylene torch. “Oh that? I was taking it for a walk.”

  6. Jazzlet says

    Quite a lot of the successful ones in the UK manage to do things like providing services for commuters and for tourists. They also may provide steam enthusiasts a place to run their engines, Biggest bro has a part share in a Pacific class engine that is kept on the Swanage Railway; they also provide summer park and ride services to keep tourist cars out of the narrow streets of Corfe and Swanage. A friend buys summer season tickets to the Llangollen Railway for her children as it’s the cheapest way for them to get to the nearest swimming pool.

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