Reviving rail line belongs in waste basket

If the ICF is frustrated they should look at themselves in a mirror.

Reviving rail line belongs in waste basket

If the ICF is frustrated they should look at themselves in a mirror. It’s not an easy job selling Arabs a wheelbarrow full of sand.

In the beginning private money was going to resurrect the rail line but nobody came to the table. Then the begging began with local, provincial and federal governments. It is not surprising that there are no real commitments for funding money to a project that has no fact based and itemized business plan but has received lots of smiles and hand shakes from the weary politicians.

I firmly believe that this project makes no sense. First the argument as a train for tourists: when the train arrives in Duncan and tourists walk around for the sights, trinkets and beads and a bite to eat, they would undoubtedly like to see the other gem in the Valley, the Forest Museum. Getting there would entail a hop on a bus while the train waits at the Duncan station for their return. The same scenario would repeat itself up the line. If it is going to be a scheduled run and you get off in Duncan then you are stranded until the next train returns. If you are going into Victoria the train stops short of the new Blue Bridge, you then have to hop on other transportation to get you into downtown Victoria.

The other argument is the use for freight: trucks have made rail freight obsolete by basically picking up and delivering to your door. Most of the mills that require bulk supplies have their own barge dock and rail system with the exception of the mills in Port Alberni that rely on rail from Nanaimo, they should take over that line and run it themselves.

Elevated light rapid transport is the future, low speed surface rail is 18th century technology. Can you imagine driving in the already congested Duncan and surrounding area while sequentially the train blocks 11 crossings from Miller Road to Highway 18? Totally needless disruption for the residents of the Cowichan Valley. I don’t remember being canvassed on whether I think a revised rail line is good for the masses. Looks to me like the ICF is spoon feeding us a bunch of road apples.

The true cost of this project will hopefully come to light in the future thanks to the proposed provincial taxpayer funded analysis. An in-depth cost analysis should have been done years ago by ICF. Hopefully the upcoming report will include not only the cost of the line but also the cost of rolling stock, a repair shop and the infrastructure to keep it going.

In addition, if you think a train is a carbon friendly way to travel, a diesel locomotive weighs 100 tons or more and a passenger railcar can weigh 50 tons. The heaviest tour bus is 16.5 tons. There is a link between mass and the energy required to move it. Do the math, the bus has it hands down any way you look at it.

So ICF, pick up your wheelbarrow full of hot air and wheel it into the next sunset. Let’s put the right of way into more productive use. Such as an alternate low gradient route over the Malahat, hiking/bike paths, a place for farmers market/swap meets in Duncan, express bus lanes from Langford to downtown Victoria. We should not be saddled with an outdated form of transportation that will end up being a big burden for the taxpayers. There is no way that this project will pay for itself because the capital costs are just too high to make it feasible. Let’s stick with the good old very flexible bus service and wait for the future. Put this project in the waste basket where it belongs.

B. Bolton


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