Lots can be done to make rail realistic on Island
Re: “Realistic figure to get Vancouver Island rail up and running $254 million: CEO” (Citizen, May 5).
Kudos to ICF CEO Larry Stevenson for pointing out how restoration of the E&N can be done cost-effectively. Could it be broken down even further? Like with a phase one and two between Nanaimo and Victoria first, to get service going, but with a new station by Nanaimo Airport and a shuttle to BC Ferries at Duke Point to attract customers, before expanding to Courtenay?
Could the envisaged passenger service be focused primarily on non-commuter trips, meeting residents’ needs, and also cater to tourists that will support the tourism industry and bring back jobs?
Mr. Stevenson is correct in calling for modest commuter rail. With the COVID-19 pandemic many employees are now teleworking, which will likely continue in the absence of a vaccine and as employers realize the real estate cost saving and productivity benefits. Even so, there would be a need for a train north of Langford for employees who cannot work remotely.
Finally, could demand be created for expanded freight rail, like through a transload facility in the Greater Victoria area, and later near Courtenay, and by encouraging shippers in Port Alberni to shift from truck to rail?
My wife and I used to live on Vancouver Island, and we had taken the E&N on occasion. It was far better than driving over (and enduring) the Malahat. We hope to return some day, including riding the railway again.