Is there a better time to provide the funds to upgrade the railway on Vancouver Island? No. The time is now.
We have just experienced a major weather event that has once more closed highways all over B.C. and in particular here on Vancouver Island, the Malahat. What is most interesting is the fact that the rail corridor did not suffer any serious washouts that would have impacted trains. So, there could have been rail services in existence to transport workers, seniors and anyone else needing to go to Victoria and back if the investment had been made.
Instead, we hear so-called transportation experts espousing blasting tunnels through the mountain, impacting the watershed to somehow build a bigger highway. At what cost? Probably over $1 billion based on the recent cost of such things as the McKenzie overpass and some recent work on the Malahat. The money spent on those two projects alone was more than enough to restore the condition of the railway infrastructure from Victoria to Nanaimo which could have moved people and freight in and out of the Capital Regional District with ease.
If it isn’t obvious now it never will be: climate change, major weather events, traffic accidents and the rapid growth of Vancouver Island make perfect sense to bring back the railway to move goods and people and reduce the impact on the environment. As well as the economic improvement that would happen as we come out of the financial problems created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It should be noted that a joint effort of the CN Railway and VIA Rail put a passenger train into service between Hope and Vancouver to help get stranded travellers back home.
It should also be noted the entire world is growing their rail systems and in the case of the U.K. and other European countries, they are bringing back long discontinued rail corridors. These include many rail corridors that serve small communities and in some cases with even lower populations than we have here on Vancouver Island.
Our friends to the south are also looking to improve rail passenger services in the latest infrastructure investments.
It’s time for the province, the federal government and the ICF (owners of the rail corridor) to sit down and develop a plan to restore all types of rail services on Vancouver Island. Most of the information is in hand or easily obtainable. There should also be a private investment as well. This corridor has the potential and the opportunity to handle a light form of commuter rail services, intercity passenger services up and down the Island, rail freight services and very important, multi excursion trains.
I would also like to point out the cost to build one kilometre of Sky Train on the Lower Mainland would be enough money to bring back the entire Vancouver Island rail corridor to a good usable condition.
Check out VITCC.ca for more information. Join, email the politicians and let’s get this project up and running ASAP.
The time is now.