Federal Government Invests in Restoring the Corridor

A federal government investment of $7.5 million plus a matching amount from the Province will see trains running along the Island Corridor again.
Below is the text from the federal news release.

News Release  


Federal investment to support Vancouver Island’s economy 

Victoria, British Columbia, April 10, 2012 – The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and MP for Vancouver Island North, announced today that the federal government has set aside up to $7.5 million for work on the restoration of the Vancouver Island Railway between Victoria and Courtenay.
“The restoration of the Vancouver Island Railway will create local jobs and economic growth, re-establish important passenger rail service for Island residents, and offer another route for visitors to this beautiful region,” said Minister Duncan.
“The Island Corridor Foundation’s plan to revitalize passenger service and start train service in Nanaimo makes a new future for business and tourism possible,” added James Lunney, MP for Nanaimo-Alberni.
Because of poor track conditions on the Vancouver Island Railway, passenger rail service between Victoria and Courtenay has been suspended due to safety concerns. Freight traffic is currently operating at reduced speeds.
The total costs of the project, to be undertaken by the Island Corridor Foundation, are estimated to be $15 million.  Of this amount, $500,000 has already been expended by the Province of British Columbia towards a bridge engineering study.  The Government of Canada has set aside up to $7.5 million under the Building Canada Fund – Major Infrastructure Component towards infrastructure work such as the cost of ballasting and the replacement of track ties and joints.  The Island Corridor Foundation will be responsible for any additional costs that arise as part of this project.  The work will address short-term operational issues, with the intention of making the corridor safe again for passenger service.
Federal funding for this project is conditional on the completion of a federal project review, Treasury Board approval, and the signing of a contribution agreement.   Federal support is conditional on the Province of British Columbia confirming its remaining contribution of $7 million toward the project. As well, the Island Corridor Foundation must confirm that no further federal investment will be required. This includes costs associated with repairs to the existing track and bridges, and the costs associated with building a new passenger station in Esquimalt to replace the municipally owned terminal in downtown Victoria, as well as any other costs that might arise.
The Government of Canada is focused on creating new opportunities for jobs and economic growth, and securing long-term prosperity for Canadians. Investing in public infrastructure is an important part of this strategy. For more information on the Building Canada Plan and federal infrastructure investments in British Columbia, please visit www.infrastructure.gc.ca.
E and N Bridge Assessment Report 
April 12 2012

Rail Bridge Report Better Than Expected

Bridges on the Island rail corridor will require $5.4 million in upgrades for passenger service to operate over the next 10 years. The findings were released in a report completed by Associated Engineering on behalf the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Island Corridor Foundation.
Last spring the BC Government made a commitment to provided $7.5 million in funding to the ICF for rail infrastructure improvements conditional on a bridge and trestle engineering audit of the 48 structures between Victoria and Courtenay and matching federal $7.5 million being approved.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure oversaw the five month detailed engineering inspection and assessment project in cooperation with the ICF and its rail operator, Southern Rail of Vancouver Island.
The comprehensive report highlighted bridge maintenance and capital costs for immediate needs, 10 years, 20 years and 30 years of operation. It concluded the structures would need $34 million over 30 years in maintenance, minor and major capital.
Graham Bruce, Chief Operating Officer of the ICF said the engineering audit was, “an excellent operational report”, providing the necessary information for a detailed bridge maintenance and capital plan.
“It was essential to have this work completed early, and the ICF very much appreciated the provincial assistance in making that happen”.
Bruce said the ICF will cover the bridge upgrades through other funding and operational sources. An application to the Island Coastal Economic Trust for a portion of the costs is already in the works
With the recent federal government announcement of $7.5 million in matching funding to the provincial contribution the ICF will now be able to undertake the necessary rail road repairs.
Once the railway improvements are complete Islanders will enjoy an improved passenger service including a new VIA train and schedule.
Bruce said the rail tie replacement project and the bridge repairs would complete Phase I of the ICF’s incremental rebuilding plan to improve passenger, freight, and excursion and tourist feature train service.
The study, done by Associated Engineering, included the weight rating of each structure with respect to passenger, 263K freight and 286K freight. It includes cost estimates for capital, maintenance and strengthening where necessary for the immediate out 10 years, 20 years and 30 years.
Don McGregor, recently retired general manager of Southern Rail of Vancouver Island oversaw the project for the ICF and SVI. McGregor said the structures were in much better condition than anyone had expected.
He stated the report included a $10 million risk allowance within the overall $34 million 30 year estimate.
“We are very pleased with the state of repair for the bridges and trestles on the Victoria Subdivision”’ added McGregor. “I don’t think anyone was anticipating the report would come back as good as it has”.
The rail infrastructure work and the bridge repairs will coincide with the overall track repairs estimated to take a year to complete.


Media contact:
Graham Bruce
250 2436 4320
250 210 0411 cell
April 12, 2012

Bridge & Trestle Report / Rail Infrastructure Funding

In October of 2010 the Island Corridor Foundation submitted a $15M rail infrastructure application to the Governments of Canada and British Columbia.
The plan called for a $500k bridge and trestle engineering audit, the replacement of 104,000 ties from Victoria to Courtenay and ballast replacement.
The BC Government announced a $7.5M contribution in June of 2011. BC agreed to release $500K so the bridge and trestle engineering audit could be completed
The Canadian Government approved $7.5M in infrastructure funding April 10th 2012.
With the completion of the rail and bridge improvements the VIA Passenger Train could recommence service with a new schedule originating from Nanaimo. This would be an early morning southbound train arriving in Victoria at 8am and then departing for Courtenay.
VIA Rail has committed a newly renovated three car train that will include bike carrying capacity, baggage storage and a small refreshment centre.
The ICF is working on an incremental plan of passenger and freight train improvements that envisions in addition to the VIA service; a Cowichan – Esquimalt – Victoria – Langford commuter service; the transport of aggregate to a Langford trans load facility; expanded freight service and new excursion/tourist trains.
Southern Rail has also developed a plan to transport coal by rail if the Raven Coal project is approved.
The incremental approach was a recommendation from the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure study of the E&N rail system that was released in September 2010.
The ICF is negotiating a long term operating agreement with its current rail operator, Southern Rail of Vancouver Island.

2 thoughts on “Federal Government Invests in Restoring the Corridor

  1. Great News, good to hear that funding has been secured to upgrade the tracks. This is a small yet vital step forward for rail service on Vancouver Island. I sincerely hope the Island Corridor Foundation will be able to work with all communities to secure stable funding and look at opportunities such as revenue producing tourist trains, eventual upgrading of service to North American Standards, expansion of service to downtown Victoria (Yes! lets build a new rail connection over the Johnson Street Bridge) and on to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal! Provincial Highways are incredibly over subsidised; it’s time that a portion of the carbon tax and or provincial gas tax goes to commuter rail.
    Looking forward to riding the day liner once again.
    Ron Starkie

  2. It is great to see that this will happen.
    If the schedule can be set up such that between Duncan and Downtown can be used as a commuter rail and match times that major employers (DND, Seaspan, downtown businesses) have employees start at, then this will be a huge success, and may one day warrant doubling the tracks.
    By making this successful, we could reduce the traffic on the Malahat, and reduce the Colwood Crawl.

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