May 9th 2011
On the 125th year of the historic E&N Railway, VIA Rail will relocate its train to Nanaimo on Tuesday May 10th. Will this be the last time the passenger train makes it way from Victoria or is this just the beginning of a new and improved service?
The train will leave the Roundhouse at VIC West at 10am May 10th without passengers and arrive at the Nanaimo Station at approximately 1:30pm. The general public is invited to take part in a welcoming ceremony.
The passenger service is currently suspended while the Island Corridor Foundation awaits the federal and provincial government’s decision on a $15 million infrastructure application.
The ICF has petitioned VIA Rail to turn around the service so it departs Nanaimo early in the morning for Victoria and then make its daily journey to Courtenay. Although this is a small adjustment it is anticipated it would be enthusiastically supported by riders wanting to travel to Victoria and still get back home the same day.
Overall ridership has increased 30% during the past four years.
VIA Rail has promised three newly refurbished cars when the service restarts.
The new train consist will be two rail diesel cars and a bicycle baggage car. This will be a tremendous improvement for the Island passenger service. Also on board will be a small refreshment galley.
But the renaissance of Island passenger service is in jeopardy without the federal and provincial government’s approval of the infrastructure application.
The old VIA train will be relocated to the Nanaimo rail yard because of better security. It will arrive at the Nanaimo Station at approximately 1:30pm for a welcoming ceremony marking the recommencement of the new station construction. VIA Rail has contributed nearly $900K for the reconstruction of the Heritage Station and work on the station is scheduled to begin again by late May.
The ICF is anticipating an answer about the infrastructure funding by mid June.
People should be aware freight train service is still in operation and walking on the track is very dangerous.
May 9th 2011