It’s been so long since we’ve heard anything substantial about the Island Corridor Foundation’s plans to revitalize the track that we were beginning to think the whole thing had been consigned to the dustbin of history, as so many railways have been across our country over the years.
That’s why we were excited last week to hear that not only have they not given up on the tracks (to put a trail in their place or not), they’ve got an even more ambitious plan in mind now.
Many questioned whether the previous plan, which required a mere $7.5 million from each of the federal and provincial governments (practically pocket change for these levels of government), and about $5 million from local municipal governments, would even be able to achieve the stated goal of reopening the railway, which has been shut down due to disrepair on the line since 2011.
People were concerned that the amount of work needed to get the trains running again would far exceed the modest budget, with little reward at the end, even if they could reopen the rail line.
There’s a new plan now. It’s ambitious.
The new bill is $42.7 million, with a focus on major track upgrades between Nanaimo and Victoria, commuter passenger service between Victoria and Langford, a tourist excursion train between the Nanaimo cruise ship terminal and Chemainus and freight service expansion. These are all practical suggestions that we think can succeed.
Naysayers will argue that you’ll never get people out of their cars to use a train, but they said the same thing about the commuter buses to Victoria, which have proven wildly successful.
One thing is absolutely clear: if we give up the track now, we will never get it back.
And that would be a shame.