Fact Sheet – Basics
Owners: The Island Corridor Foundation: a partnership of First Nations, five regional and 14 municipal governments.
Assets: 290 kilometers of rail line covering 650 hectares valued at $366 million (2006 dollars). This consists of two tracks – a 225-km between Victoria and Courtenay and a 64-km link between Parksville and Port Alberni as well as the bridges, trestles, rail yards etc. and land adjacent to the corridor including trees available for sustainable harvest. Also included are historic railway stations at Duncan, Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach and Courtenay plus stations at Parksville and Ladysmith.
Operator: Under contract to the Island Corridor Foundation, Southern Railway of Vancouver Island operates a daily VIA Rail passenger service between Victoria and Courtenay and limited freight traffic. It employs 22 people with a wage bill of $1.25 million a year and another $1 million for rail operations as part of the Island economy.
Problem: Freight and passenger service on the Island Corridor can only be operated at low speeds and in its current state cannot carry freight to North American standards resulting in impaired VIA passenger service and less freight being hauled.
Solution: $103.8-million upgrade for overdue rail bed and track improvements – $78.8 million for the Victoria-Courtenay section, $20.6 million for the Parksville-Port Alberni line and $4.4 million to renew the heritage stations – to be phased in over a five-year period.
Construction, which will begin once funding is in place, includes:
• Replacing approximately 260,000 worn-out wood ties using environmentally safe yellow cedar ties manufactured on the Island.
• Adding additional ballast and super-elevation at certain curves using Island sand and gravel to allow for higher train running speeds and a smoother ride.
• Contiguously welding the track throughout to provide better rail passenger comfort and improved running times.
• Inspecting and re-rating all bridges, replacing the decking and carrying out structural repairs.
Survival and continued viability of a key transportation corridor.
• Cost-effective reduction of highway truck traffic resulting in an estimated 10-per-cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions.
• Expanded business opportunities.
• Increased access to North American and Asian markets.
• Enhanced green public transit system connecting communities up and down the island.