Let’s be realistic: the future of rail travel

Duncan – A response to the letter of April 23 from Graham Jones I read the letter from Mr. Jones (April 23) expecting some realistically positive endorsements for the future of rail traffic on Vancouver Island. What I did read was, in my estimation, a very negative and myopic view of what should, or should not, be possible.

If one wants to be “realistic” consider these few pointers: a. A long term view: The population of Duncan, not to mention other cities on the Island, is expected to rise in the coming years and the fact that we have this corridor is a big plus for the future transportation needs on Vancouver Island.

b. Bus service vs. rail service: We have seen, unfortunately, many examples in the past years of tragic events on the Trans Canada Highway, which have not only snarled traffic, but, at times completely halted it! This rail line is a secondary corridor which is also available.

c. Time, speed and noise: I’m afraid that Mr. Jones actually contradicts himself when discussing this matter. In paragraph three these factors are a “hazard”, yet, later in paragraph six we are mostly a “rural” environment, and, I presume, therefore the hazards mentioned are not so much of a problem. In any case, one cannot be overly presumptive and prejudicial about speed which is, after all, a major safety factor.

d. People (both local and visitors) and commerce (trans Island): This letter goes into great detail regarding the necessity, or not, for people on the Island regarding their travel needs. But no mention is made of the prospects put forward many years ago by the proposers of this project viz: to get as much of the heavy commerce off the Trans Canada Highway, especially from “up-Island” and back on the tracks again.

Once more, we need a long-term vision for the future of commercial transportation in regards to an Island’s developing economy. This is certainly not an “either-or” situation rather a “both-and”.

e. Finally, working with all stakeholders: The rather barbed retort in paragraph nine regarding “experience” was not only uncalled for but rather facetious and misinformed as Via Rail is unlikely to commit itself to a joint enterprise without first knowing all the facts. The fact that the First Nations, municipalities and mayors (such as Graham Hill in View Royal, to mention but one) plus business leaders, are all presently much involved belies this concern.

This letter of mine is just one person’s view and I would hope that others would step forward with many more “realistic” and, I would presume, very positive views of what could be eventually a long-term, valuable project for everybody living on Vancouver Island.

Peter Elliott