First Local Government Liaison meeting

The Island Corridor Foundation had its first meeting with the Local Government Liaison on July 22nd 2016. Thirteen members of local government attended this full day of rail tours and meetings.
Hyrail tours were provided by Southern Railway staff who had over 170 years of railway experience;
Don McGregor, Southern Rail of Vancouver Island Project Manager with 40 years of railway experience
Singh Biln, P. Eng., Southern Rail of BC Director Community Relations & Chief Mechanical Officer with 40 years of railway experience
Al Kutaj, Southern Rail of Vancouver Island Road Master with 34 years of railway experience on Vancouver Island
Mark Hughes, Southern Rail of Vancouver Island Operations Manager with 36 years of railway experience
Geoff Bielewski, Southern Rail of Vancouver Island Locomotive Engineer with 25 years of railway experience
Cruise Ship Excursion
The Nanaimo Port Authority & Southern Railway of Vancouver Island with ICF are researching a world class tourism excursion opportunity to Vancouver Island:
– Each cruise ship generates approximately $300,000 in economic impact
– Nanaimo Port Authority in its economic study estimates that $22.8 million total economic impact of the excursion train for the first five years of operation (assumes annual cruise ship calls stabilize at 20)
Tour of the Wellcox Yard 
Nanaimo Wellcox Yard has the needed connection to North American Railways. Southern Railway of BC interchange connects to Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and other National railways.
Wellcox Yard
The Wellcox Yard is the hub for train activity for the Island, currently serving five trans-load customers. Rail cars are transported by the Seaspan rail barge from the mainland to Nanaimo at the Wellcox Yard. This is the only public rail barge slip on the Island.  Currently five different products are trans-loaded at the Wellcox yard. The rail barge loading facility is vital to ongoing and future rail freight service.
Connection to North America
Wellcox Trans-load Facilities
Trans-load Product: Fertilizer
Used by Timberwest in their reforestation plan on the Island. The product is sent by the Seaspan rail barge and distributed by helicopter over the sections of forest.
Trans-load Product: Poles
Untreated hydro poles come by truck from Northern Pressure Treated Wood in Courtenay and sent by Seaspan rail barge for treatment and shipped to their plant in Ontario. Northern Pressure Treated Wood (NPTW) is actively involved in protecting this renewable resource, both in harvesting practices and reforestation work. By using these resources on a sustainable basis, NPTW is ensured of a continuous supply of quality wood fibre.
BCOL 11262 (2)
Trans-load Product: Latex
The latex comes by Seaspan rail barge to be used at Catalyst Paper in Port Alberni for paper coating. The Port Alberni mill employees over 300 workers and specializes in papers are used in telephone directories, catalogues, magazines, brochures, inserts and flyers.
Trans-Load Product: Slag Grind
Slag grind is shipped by Seaspan rail barge to the Wellcox yard to be used as a cement filler for Lafarge. Slag cement blends can be used for virtually all type of cast-in place concrete including retaining walls and pavers.
Trans-load Product: Grain
Top Shelf Feeds operates the only feed mill on the Island. Rail cars were delivered to the mill located at Cowichan but now are trans-loaded at the Wellcox yard. This is an important service for agriculture on Vancouver Island.
Water Tank Cars – support for BC Coastal Wildfire Response
Southern Rail of Vancouver Island holds the most water on reserve for supporting the BC Coastal Wildfire Response, five cars totally 363,688 liters.
Railway Infrastructure Program
Attendees rode the hy-rail trucks to get an overview of the track infrastructure program for the Victoria Subdivision (Victoria to Courtenay)
The members traveled to a section of track in South Nanaimo to view what the infrastructure program (20.9 million) would actually look like. The infrastructure investment will repair bridges, replace 9000 rail joints, renew 110,000 wood ties, add 56.5K tonnes of ballast, and lift and resurface track bringing it to Class 3 track conditions with speed restrictions.

Al Kutaj, SVI roadmaster, who has walked the entire the Victoria Subdivision numerous times in planning and reviewing the infrastructure plan. The attendees viewed a 100ft of ties, and marked defective ties and the ties that would be replaced which exceed the requirements for class 3 track with speed restrictions . On average of the entire track one in four ties would be replaced.
Down the track the group saw an example of the finished infrastructure program.
Once arriving back at the Nanaimo Station Southern Railway Project Manager, Don McGregor spoke about the Transport Canada Crossing regulation and how that could effect each municipality, view his presentation here.

  • Approx. 85% crossing systems already meet new Grade Crossing Regulations (GCR)
  • No decision to date by Province to adopt Federal GCR or under what terms
  • “Grandfathering” still possibility for some railways crossings
  • ICF/SVI will update all local government agencies as information is provided

The discussion continued,  the ICF No New Net Crossing Policy, ICF Rail Trail and Heritage Stations. More on the presentation here

• Snaw-Nas-As legal case, for the three parties are exploring a negotiated settlement.
• Long Term Agreement with SVI is in draft form.
• Ties & Ballast; SVI will work with local suppliers for ties and aggregate
• Port Alberni Subdivision could be opened with a freight business case


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