All aboard the E&N rail plan? I don’t think so

This project has been in the works for 20-plus years and nothing visible has happened.

Looking at the grants that the CVRD are handing out I see that they granted another $122,025 to the Island railway corridor group; that makes almost $500,000 provided to this group and another like amount waiting to be wasted.

What did we get for that money?

I suspect nothing, but maybe Jon Lefebure would be so kind to enlighten us taxpayers on this spending of taxpayers’ hard earned money?

And something for Graham Bruce to look into is the scheduling of the train if it ever happens on this one-way track from Victoria to Courtenay; that’s a dilemma I can’t get my head around.

The mayor of Langford is balking at his support; the Regional District of Nanaimo is withdrawing their support for this project, so why is the Cowichan Valley Regional District continuing to support this venture?

This project has been in the works for 20-plus years and nothing visible has happened.

First, let me say that I find it immoral and unethical for taxpayers’ money to be spent on projects that interfere with private enterprise that is doing such a great job providing a reliable bus and tour service and not costing the taxpayer a red cent.

The question of freight is a non-starter; trucks pick and deliver to your door, stump to dump trains can’t do that.

Their advantage is bulk freight over long hauls like grain from the prairies to ports in Vancouver, not short hauls on the Island.

I have spent the last month getting some cost involved in this project.

The two main railway companies in Canada gave me a ballpark figure that they use and they suggest that a number around $1,000,000 per mile would be a good starting figure.

That would include removing the old rails and ties, refurbishing the rail bed and installing new ties and 80 pound rails, the minimum weight for this project.

This does not include the disposal of around 420,000 rotten creosote ties — 3,200 per mile — refurbishing any of the bridges, and the cost of the newly mandated gate crossings.

Transport Canada has a rule that all rail crossings must have special crossing gates that are only available from the U.S. at a cost, according to the Mayor of Langford, of $700,000 each. So starting at the south end of Shawinigan Lake to the north end of Somenos Road there are 15 crossings.

So that eats up $10.5 million in crossings for this area alone. I am guessing at the number of crossings from Victoria to Courtenay at a modest 40 crossings, so that total would be around $40,000,000. The mileage from Victoria to Courtenay is 130-plus miles, so simple arithmetic makes this project worth at least $170,000,000, and taxpayers know all too well that these projects rarely come in on budget.

Just ask the taxpayers in Victoria about the Johnson Street bridge; started out at $40,000,000 now heading north of $120,000,000.

The main reason nothing is progressing is because it makes no sense at all and thank God some intelligent people are starting to realize that. So let’s pull the rails in the CVRD district in lieu of taxes owed and sell them for scrap and recoup some of our wasted money and put this nonsense project to bed once and for all.

There is a CVRD meeting April 13; I hope concerned citizens of the valley will attend and are able to get some sensible answers to this project.

One of countless very concerned taxpayers.

 

Blake Bolton

North Cowichan