Requiem for the rails: Sarnia’s Emm Gryner leads the lament for VIA cuts

Emm Gryner's new video Math Whiz is tribute to VIA Rail and her sadness about the cuts to service in southern Ontario.

Emm Gryner’s new video Math Whiz is tribute to VIA Rail and her sadness about the cuts to service in southern Ontario.

Emm Gryner has struck a chord with a musical lament about the loss of VIA Rail service in rural Ontario.

The successful Sarnia-born singer is a frequent user of the passenger rail service was asked to be part of a forum near Stratford on the cuts to service. Gryner couldn’t be at the meeting because of work commitments so she turned her new song Math Whiz into a message of loss and sadness about the lack of train service to her community.

“I’ve done a lot of traveling, even as a tourist, and train travel is one of my favorite ways to get around and environmentally it makes more sense,” she says adding now she takes her young children with her and it is a “nightmare” to travel in car seats for long distances.

Gryner says her son is obsessed with trains, as most young boys are, and is sad they can’t take the train as often but she says the lack of train service causes serious problems for some people. “There is a real romantic element to it but there is also that practical need for it. To expect everyone can take a car, especially in the winter – it’s like rolling the dice with your life.”

So Gryner took the song Math Whiz and shot a video ( on the train tracks, dedicating it to Trains 86 and 89, singing “I miss you…Now we’re divided like a jail sentence decided; where’s my equal now?”

The video ends with the words “bring back the train” scrawled at the end.

“It is just the frustration of when a relationship ends what do you do with that heartbreak?” she says. “That is how I feel about not having those trains.”

The music video, which has been viewed by over 4,200 people in just one week, seems to have struck a chord. “Thank you, for the moms, dads, students, people with disabilities, seniors, Amish, eve­ryone that loves and depends on our trains,” wrote one fan beneath the video on YouTube.

And Gryner has been getting long letters and emails from people who are upset with the reduced service. “People are writing their own stories of how the train has affected them…having it and not having it anymore; this is such a wide-spread feeling; everyone is feeling this loss…I think a lot of people are like me and they don’t want to accept it.”

They may have to; Gryner says since the video hit YouTube, she’s been told “The trains are not going to return.”

– Heather Wright