Island Corridor Foundation hopes petition forces VIA Rail to sign a new agreement
Tamara Cunningham, Daily News
Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
A petition urging VIA Rail to restore passenger service on Vancouver Island will inject more “confidence and credibility” into the case for rail, says Island Corridor Foundation president Graham Bruce.
Connect VI and the Young Professionals of Vancouver Island have launched a petition calling for VIA Rail to sign a new Train Service Agreement with the ICF and restore passenger service before 2014.
Andre Sullivan, past president for the Young Professionals of Nanaimo, says the under-40 crowd seems eager for a passenger rail service as an alternative to rubber traffic. Passenger trains could be part of the island’s future transportation network, providing a “less carbon-producing” and inexpensive way of travel, he points out.
“This petition is necessary because although (ICF) has all the funding it can’t access it without an agreement from VIA Rail to restore passenger service and they don’t seem to have the appetite,” Sullivan said. “This is our future we are debating . . . and we want to continue the pressure.”
The head of ICF says negotiations with VIA Rail could be faster, but there is no reason the company won’t end up participating in the agreement.
Bruce anticipates construction will start this fall and the passenger rail will be back on track by 2014. The petition will likely help move things along by strengthening the case for passenger rail and “urgency” to get repairs started, he said.
Passenger rail service was suspended on the island in 2011 when rail conditions failed to meet passenger safety standards.
The YPN has always hoped the service would be revived, going as so far as to reserve space for passenger rail at the restored Nanaimo Train Station.
The petition is targeting 500 signatures by June, when professionals meet to discuss issues like transportation at the VI Conference in Nanaimo.