October. 26, 2010
ICF Rail Infrastructure Funding
ISLAND RAIL SERVICE ON TRACK FOR IMPROVEMENTS
NANAIMO – A new Nanaimo-to-Victoria passenger rail service plan for Vancouver Island was announced today by the Island Corridor Foundation.
Graham Bruce, ICF executive director, said the foundation is hopeful that with the assistance of the federal and provincial governments and VIA Rail, the plan will be operational in the next 12 to 18 months.
The strategy, developed by the ICF and Southern Rail of Vancouver Island, calls for the existing VIA passenger service to make its home terminus the ICF’s Nanaimo rail yard. This would allow an early-morning southbound passenger service to Victoria to be added to the 8 a.m. Victoria-to-Courtenay daily service as well as a late afternoon train from Victoria to Nanaimo.
The two senior governments are being asked to equally fund $15 million in rail infrastructure improvements that will primarily replace ties and ballast, making for a smoother safer ride and securing the future of Island rail.
VIA Rail has been approached under its railcar refurbishment program to provide new passenger cars that are handicap accessible, can carry bicycles and have onboard food and beverage facilities.
“This is the first phase of incremental rail improvements that was detailed in the recently released B.C. Ministry of Transportation rail study,” said Bruce. “We’ve toured the rail with North Island MP and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs John Duncan, B.C. Minister of Transportation Shirley Bond, and VIA Rail president Marc Laliberte. They appreciate the common sense of this passenger service plan and the urgency of the rail infrastructure funding.”
The ICF took over control and ownership of the Island rail corridor and the rail link to Port Alberni in 2006. The ICF has contracted with SRY Rail Link, (known as SVI Rail Link), a B.C.-based, highly experienced short-line rail provider, to be the Island’s rail operator
To date, approximately $30 million in rail and trail improvements, several new bridges, the Langford transit exchange and the Admirals Road crossing have been completed and a new Nanaimo station is now under construction. Annual freight tonnage has been stabilized and passenger volumes have been increased by 25 per cent since 2006.
It is anticipated the work program will take approximately 12 months to complete and will generate 164 direct and indirect jobs; $7.7million in wages and salaries; $8 million in goods expenditures on Vancouver Island; and will create job training and employment opportunities for Island First Nations.
The MoT study identified potential passenger ridership overall could grow to more than 200,000 people annually over the next 20 years with improvements. The study points out that anyone trying to use the current train to commute or to visit either Victoria or Nanaimo on business is “highly constrained by the schedule which departs Victoria in the morning and returns in the evening.”
Bruce said passenger fares, although not yet established, would have to be competitive with other transit options.
For additional information about the Island Corridor Foundation, please see the attached backgrounder or check the ICF website at https://islandrail.ca//
Graham Bruce, ICF
250 246-4320 or 250 210-0411 (cell)
October 26, 2010
ICF AIMS TO UPGRADE ISLAND RAIL SERVICE
NANAIMO – Built in 1886, the Vancouver Island Rail Corridor continues to be an essential support to those industries it serves and growing numbers of rail passengers who use the Island’s VIA Rail service.
Decades of under-investment and insufficient maintenance by the former owners greatly diminished its ability to carry freight and passengers efficiently and effectively undermining its potential to attract new business and economic development.
In 2006, the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) was established in response to public concern over the potential loss of Island rail service to assume ownership of the line. The ICF represents a coalition of 14 municipalities, five regional districts and 13 First Nations, united in the goal to preserve rail service on the Island.
The ICF has made a formal request to the Province of B.C. and Government of Canada for $7.5 million each to fund repairs necessary to ensure the safe and continued operation of the historic Vancouver Island Rail corridor (formerly known as the E & N).
THE WORK ORDER
- $12.5 million for track tie renewal
– replacement of 104,400 track ties (including bridge ties and deck replacement), approximately one-third of all ties on the 139.7-mile Victoria subdivision between Victoria and Courtenay and the five-mile Wellcox spur in Nanaimo
– replacement of existing tie plates with double shoulder plates and all “full-toe angle bars” with “toe-less joint bars”
- $2.0 million for track re-ballasting and surfacing
– re-surfacing and grading of the track profile, including supply and placement of 60,000 tonnes of new crushed rock ballast on the total 139.7-mile Victoria Subdivision from Victoria to Courtenay and the five-mile Wellcox Spur.
- $0.5 million for railway bridge engineering inspection and assessment
WE’VE BEEN WORKING ON THE RAILROAD
Since 2006, the ICF has made considerable strides towards its goal to revitalize rail service on Vancouver Island. Notably, it has:
- attracted SRY Rail Link, a B.C. based and highly experienced short line rail provider, to be the Island’s rail operator, known as SVI Rail Link (SVI);
- obtained property tax exemptions from local municipalities and regional districts totalling $1.8 million during the past four years ($460,000 per year);
- secured $2.4 million for reconstruction of the historic Nanaimo railway station;
- invested more than $4 million in tie replacement, new ballast, signal repairs and other costs during the past three years;
- along with its member municipalities (including grants from the federal government and Province of B.C.), already invested approximately $30 million in related infrastructure improvements with another $12.5 million proposed by the Capital
Regional District to ensure that rail access is maintained in the reconstruction of the Johnston St. Bridge in Victoria;
- stabilized annual freight tonnage and increased passenger volumes by 25 per cent since 2006.
COMING TO A STATION NEAR YOU
The work to bring the rail bed in compliance with recommendations from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation will allow a service expansion, involving a trip before and after the VIA Dayliner’s current daily Victoria-Courtenay service. The expansion would introduce a new service between Nanaimo and Victoria to serve commuters and day-trippers and involve changing the terminus of the VIA service to Nanaimo.
A second train option is also being discussed that is based on serving work trips to and from the CFB Esquimalt’s Naden Naval Base from Cowichan and communities between the Base and Cowichan. This train would also be able to accommodate other commuter and day-trippers.
The Island Corridor Foundation, with its partners, has identified many other opportunities to revitalize rail service on Vancouver Island. The construction of the Port Authority of Nanaimo’s new $22-million cruise ship terminal, under construction just across the rail yard, is a natural tie-in with 31,000 visitors plus crew expected annually.
On the freight side of the railway’s ledger, SRY Rail Link completed construction, in January 2010, of a new $11 million rail-marine terminal at Annacis Island that included a $4.6 million federal contribution. The link allows the easier movement of goods to and from the Nanaimo rail/marine terminal by barge on rail or truck. The terminal was built specifically to address inefficiencies, added costs and lack of competition for rail goods flowing to and from the Island.
A report entitled Potential for VIA Passenger Service Enhancement prepared for Southern Railway of Vancouver Island has outlined many options and the ICF intends to take an incremental approach to implementing those viewed as most workable.
NOTE: The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Corridor Review Study report on the railway’s condition can be accessed through the ICF’s website at
Contact: Graham Bruce 250 246-4320 or 250 210-0411 (cell)
STATEMENT BY ICF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GRAHAM BRUCE
Today I am pleased to announce that the Island Corridor Foundation has made a formal application to VIA Rail to move the home terminus of the Dayliner to Nanaimo and to initiate an early morning southbound service to Victoria.
The ICF in conjunction with its rail operator, Southern Rail of Vancouver Island, has presented to VIA a plan for an early morning southbound train leaving Nanaimo at approximately 6am. It would arrive at Victoria, in time for an 8:30am departure to Courtenay.
The late afternoon return trip from Victoria would depart approximately 6pm for Nanaimo.
This would now provide for people from Nanaimo south to be able to travel by rail to Victoria and attend whatever meetings or appointments they may have and still get home by early evening.
During an August rail tour with VIA President & CEO Marc Laliberte the need for improved scheduling and passenger services was discussed.
The ICF has also requested that three newly refurbished Budd cars be provided to the Island service as part of the VIA railcar refurbishment program.
It was pointed out to Mr. Laliberte the need for these cars to be handicap accessible, to have bicycle carrying capacity and onboard food and beverage facilities.
VIA passenger service has seen an increase in ridership of approximately 25% over the past three years.
In our preliminary analysis the increased annual operating cost would be in the neighborhood of $400,000 which would be reduced substantially by passenger fares.
By centralizing our operations out of Nanaimo and running an early morning southbound it naturally provides for a passenger rail service that is more in tune with the travelling demands of Islanders. It also allows for future scheduling of more frequent north and southbound passenger service.
The second part of our announcement today is to request a $15 million rail infrastructure investment to be funded equally by the federal and provincial governments.
This investment which will primarily replace ties and ballast along the line, will make for a smoother safer ride and secure the future of Island Rail
$12.5million will be used to replace 104,000 ties, $2 million will be used for track re-ballasting and surfacing and $.5 million will be used for bridge engineering and assessment.
It is anticipated the work program will take 12 months to complete and will generate 164 direct and indirect jobs; $7.7 million in wages and salaries; $8 million in goods expenditures on Vancouver Island and will create job training and employment opportunities for First Nations.
The plan we are presenting today is the first phase of the incremental rail improvements that was detailed in the recently released BC Ministry of Transportation rail study.
It identified potential passenger ridership overall could grow to more than 200,000 people annually over the next 20 years with improvements. The study pointed out that anyone trying to use the current train to commute or to visit either Victoria or Nanaimo on business is highly constrained by the schedule.
Since 2006, the ICF has made considerable strides towards its goal to revitalize rail service.
- It has attracted SRY Rail Link, a BC based and highly experienced short line rail provider, to be the Island’s rail operator.
- It has obtained tax exemptions from member municipalities and regional districts totaling $1.8million.
- It has undertaken the reconstruction of the historic Nanaimo railway station by partnering with the Young Professionals of Nanaimo who helped to raise over $400,000 of community and contractor donations.
- Through its contract with SVI there has been more than $4 million in tie replacement, new ballast and signal repairs during the past three years.
Along with our member municipalities, (including grants from the federal and provincial governments), there has been over $25 million in related infrastructure improvements with another $12.5 proposed by the Capital Regional District to ensure that rail is maintained in the reconstruction of the Johnson St Bridge.
Included in the $25million rail investments is the $5million Admirals Road railway crossing at Esquimalt; the new $4 million Four Mile rail and trail bridge in View Royal; the $2 million BC Transit exchange at Langford; the $110,000 rail stop improvement at Cobble Hill; and over $14 million in cycle/walking trails from Victoria to Courtenay.
Although this announcement today is about passenger service and rail infrastructure improvements the ICF and SVI are working on freight service improvements and tourist and excursion rail opportunities.
It is important to recognize the recently opened $12 million marine- rail barge terminal at Annacis Island. This project jointly funded by SRY Rail Link and the federal government will increase service capacity for Island rail freight traffic.
The ICF, Southern Rail and the Nanaimo Port Authority are also engaged in planning rail access to the new $22 million cruise ship terminal currently under construction at the Nanaimo Port only several hundred yards from the existing railroad.
We have also toured the rail with North Island MP, The Honourable John Duncan and Nanaimo MP Dr. James Lunney; and BC Transportation Minister Shirley Bond and Parksville MLA Ron Cantelon.
They have a first hand understanding of the potential of Island rail and the important role it can play in connecting communities for passenger, freight, tourism and excursion rail service.
As we all work to build a resilient Island economy and community it may very well be that Island rail will be more important tomorrow than it ever was yesterday.
The ICF encourages supporters of Island rail to write letters of support to federal ministers;MP Chuck Strahl (transportation); North Island MP John Duncan (aboriginal affairs);Nanaimo MP James Lunney; Premier Campbell; provincial minister of transportation Shirley Bond and Parksville MLA Ron Cantelon.
Funding Submission for Upgrades and Repairs
Report on VIA Service Potential
How You Can Help
Put your support for the Island Corridor Foundation and its plans for the railway in writing to:
Hon. Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport
330 Sparks Street
Tower C, 29th Floor
Strahl.C@parl.gc.ca and firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon. Rob Merrifield, Minister of State (Transport)
Hon. John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Room 310 Justice Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
James Lunney, MP Nanaimo
Premier Gordon Campbell
PO Box 9041
STN PROV GOVT
Hon. Shirley Bond, BC Minister of Transportation
Hon. Murray Coell, BC Minister of Environment
MLA Ida Chong, Oak Bay-Gordon Head
MLA Ron Cantelon, Parksville – Qualicum
MLA Don McRae, Comox Valley
Marc Laliberte, President & CEO VIA Rail Canada
Postal Box 8116 Station A