Trail use of rail bed makes sense at this time
A group of people who feel that the old E&N rail bed has sat idle long enough have gotten together and formed Friends of Rails to Trails, Vancouver Island (FORT VI).
We have studied the various studies, business plans, and proposals that the Island Corridor Foundation has obtained or commissioned and agree with the findings of those studies. At this point, the population of Vancouver Island and the level of freight movement cannot make economic sense to rebuild the track in its current form. Over the long term, the track is an important transportation corridor for moving freight and people when our population is enough to support a train service.
In the meantime, we propose that the track be used as a safe corridor for cyclists, hikers, commuters, and casual resident use as a non-motorized trail.
We are encouraged to see that Jack Peake, who we can thank as one of the leaders who ensured that the corridor wasn’t pulled apart and sold to private interests in 2003, is proposing that ICF representatives meet with our group, FORT VI to discuss options. To date, we haven’t heard from him but hope to soon.
In the meantime, we have over 2,000 electronic and paper signatures of people requesting that the rail bed be converted to a trail until such time as a train becomes feasible even on a subsidized basis. We feel that the many communities who are putting in trails that parallel the corridor are wasting taxpayer money as the various trail bits are very expensive and cannot be linked in numerous places, making a disjointed trail system.
We feel that a proper analysis of both short and long term usage and cost projections is needed with a realistic assessment of costs to repair the current track and safety issues with over 200 at grade road crossings. We look forward to assisting in whatever way possible to conduct a thorough, transparent and fact-based examination.
We look forward to a round table discussion with a committee of the ICF, headed by Jack Peake to look at pragmatic ways to utilize this gem that runs through our communities.
More information about our group and the initiative to bring the E&N rail bed back to community use is available at www.fortvi.ca.