Some Rail Facts Might Help

Some Rail Facts Might Help

 

By

Graham Bruce, CEO

Island Corridor Foundation

 
It may be too early to write off rail for Vancouver Island.  Here are some points to consider.
First, there are no cost estimates nor is there a business case for converting the rail line to a bus corridor if in fact it could be done at all. Rail corridors were granted for rail purposes and when that use is abandoned significant issues that could impact the integrity of the corridor may come into play.  Bridges and signals would all have to be modified or changed, combined with the costly removal of the track and rebuilding of a bus lane. Once removed it is very unlikely track would be re-installed.
Second, VIA Inter-city passenger service is the key to improving island rail use. VIA will provide 3 Rail Diesel Cars (RDC); liability insurance; and an annual $1.4 million operating subsidy. Southern Rail (SVI) has agreed to cover any operating deficiency for a ten year period. SVI will also maintain the track. This means the inter-city service operates without provincial or local taxpayer contributions. Schedules will now be the responsibility of SVI and ICF and better reflect public demand.
 
Third, the tourist excursion train business case undertaken by the Nanaimo Port Authority and SVI supports an increase of cruise ships that will create a significant positive impact to Nanaimo. Also there are potential benefits to Chemainus and Ladysmith as well as to the McLean Mill & Steam Train attraction at Port Alberni. SVI would be responsible for the operational cost of the excursion train.
 
Fourth, before the communities of the Capital Regional District give up on commuter train service between Victoria and Langford they should remember the millions of dollars they have already spent on bridge and crossing upgrades over the past 10 years in anticipation of rail being re-instated.
 
Fifth, using two 3-RDC commuter trains with a passing siding, there is the capacity to move 1200 passengers per hour over the 19 minute route. While these types of trains aren’t very flashy, they are functional for the improved track conditions, easy to operate and available. The CRD or the provincial government would be responsible for operational costs.
 
Sixth, we are told federal infrastructure funding for track upgrades is available if there is renewed provincial participation. The $43 million Rail Services and Track Infrastructure 2017 Plan can easily be modified if necessary.
 
Seventh, Southern Rail is one of the best short line rail operators and quite likely the only operator that can make the long term Island rail commitment as they have done. SVI will underwrite the VIA inter-city passenger service, maintain the track and pay a track license fee to ICF.
 
Eighth, add in the NDP/Green alliance, 13 of 14 provincial Island seats; a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; concerns about climate change; traffic congestion in the CRD; economic opportunities for island communities; much higher gas prices; everyday affordability and rail becomes a real option if you are looking to the future.
 
Vancouver Island is one of the best places in the world to live. Not fully discovered but it will be and population will increase substantially. Our younger generation today and those who come tomorrow will be glad there is a rail transportation system. So let’s keep buses on the highways and trains on the tracks.

5 thoughts on “Some Rail Facts Might Help

  1. When The Hon Lisa Rait was the Minister of Transportation I wrote to her concerning any accident/disaster etc on Highway 1 south of Parksville would mean minimal access to Victoria and hospitals. Yes there are airports in Qualicum Beach, Comox and Nanaimo but Nanaimo is south of say an accident occuring in Parksville and Nanoose Bay.
    The cost of a second Highway linking Mid-Island with Victoria or even Duncan would far exceed the cost of revitalizing our railroad.While the rail link from Victoria to Courtenay was in operation I was a Train-greeter at Qualicum Beach rail station. Many people leaving the train at that station mentioned how useful the train was to get to see the Island and also others who greatly appreciated the fact that if they had a medical need to get to Victoria they did not have to worry about crossing the Malahat especially during inclement driving conditions.
    Please feel free to pass on these comments to any relevant politician.
    Sincerely,
    Roger Simms.

  2. Roger M Simms
    May 28, 2018 at 7:21 pm
    When The Hon Lisa Rait was the Minister of Transportation I wrote to her concerning any accident/disaster etc on Highway 1 south of Parksville would mean minimal access to Victoria and hospitals. Yes there are airports in Qualicum Beach, Comox and Nanaimo but Nanaimo is south of say an accident occuring in Parksville and Nanoose Bay.
    The cost of a second Highway linking Mid-Island with Victoria or even Duncan would far exceed the cost of revitalizing our railroad.While the rail link from Victoria to Courtenay was in operation I was a Train-greeter at Qualicum Beach rail station. Many people leaving the train at that station mentioned how useful the train was to get to see the Island and also others who greatly appreciated the fact that if they had a medical need to get to Victoria they did not have to worry about crossing the Malahat especially during inclement driving conditions.
    Please feel free to pass on these comments to any relevant politician.
    Sincerely,
    Roger Simms.

  3. Please make train facts available to share on social platforms. We need to get more people behind the restoration of our rail system. There is hope and we need to drive change.

  4. It’s about time that some pragmatic and sensible information entered the discussion. How can we Citizens be so shortsighted to allow the abandonment of mass transit links. Stupid beyond belief.
    IMHO

  5. I have no argument or debate with these facts. However because the track is on Vancouver Island and not part of the Canadian cross country train system it would be nice to so an inter government plan to use the RDC cars for commuter rail between Duncan and Parksville area.; I think a walk on ferry service from Canada Place to Chemainus may supply a better Gulf Island Commuter service year round.
    Secondly the future you explain is very correct and B.C. Ferry service from Vancouver downtown is miles away from Horsehoe Bay or Twassen which have bad bus service on the long weekends and the holiday seasons. The only reason I chose Chemainus is bike and walk on traffic is a very dangerous traffic combination given the road rage seen at terminals.
    Thirdly the connection was tabled by B.C. for this West Coast Extention in 1995 when the Express started. The Langford- Victoria run was taken by B.C.Transit to Victorua when Translink took over B.C.Transit operation in Vancouver. Today West Coast Express is a B.C. operation while Skytrain is a Translink operation. So with the Langford Victoria situation B.C. Transit funding was drastically reduced to handle smaller cities. I agree as growth in the future increases both situations will be resolved
    Fourthly the Southern Rail of B.C was set up to for a local train operation operation which was freight, to take over the B/C/Hydro Railway from Chilliwack to New Westminster. From New Westminster to Vancouver the old Interurban tracks.were sold to start Skytraln above them. So Southern is not an inter-provincial freight operator and fits into the commuter rail category. The commuter rail milage from Parksville area to Duncan is 70 miles of the best track. The W.C.E from Vancouver to Mission is 70 miles as is the New West to Chilliwack Southern track. Equally stated the Island extension is the business plan.
    Thank You

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