EN track repair costs expected to exceed $15M, states new report


JUNE 9, 2015 12:00 AM

The cost of track improvements in the ongoing efforts to bring back passenger train service to Vancouver Island may be much more than anticipated.
A report that was publicly released this week concluded that the $15 million that has been allocated for track improvements along the approximately 289-kilometre EN corridor is probably not enough for the railway to operate in a safe manner. The report, prepared by RTC Rail Solutions, was commissioned by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the BC Safety Authority.
It said the allocated funding might be good enough to fix isolated defects on the aging railway, but is “pushing the limits of safety to the extreme.”
The report concluded that the track is too light for the intended speed of the train, and there isn’t enough money to cover defects.
Graham Bruce, CEO of the Island Corridor Foundation which owns the EN corridor, said the ICF recently submitted a detailed review to the ministry taking issue with some of the information in the RTC report.
He said parts of the report were based on “wrong assumptions.”
Bruce said the train speed of both passenger and freight trains would actually be much lower than referenced in the report.
As well, Bruce said the report indicated RTC had not undertaken an on-site track inspection nor fully appreciated the incremental approach being taken to rehabilitate the track infrastructure.
“There has been a tremendous amount of work and study that has been done since the findings in the report were compiled,” he said.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Transportation acknowledged the ICF review was not included in the RTC’s final report, and the “discussion is ongoing” on whether the province wants to move forward with the project.
But Joe Stanhope, chairman of the Regional District of Nanaimo which committed $1 million to the project last year, said he’s not surprised by the RTC report.
“I’ve taken tours on the rail line and I think the infrastructure requirements to repair it will cost a lot more than previously thought,” he said.
Robert.Barron @nanaimodailynews.com
To read more about the Provincial Review of Track Infrastructure Project click here


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