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Rail parties reach tentative passenger service agreement

An agreement to provide passenger rail service for Vancouver Island has been reached, the Island Corridor Foundation announced Wednesday at the Nanaimo train station. The tentative agreement needs to be ratified by ICF, Southern Rail and Via Rail boards.

“We appreciate the dedication and patience of those involved in the negotiation and that they found a way to make this work," said ICF co-chair Mary Ashley said. "On behalf of the foundation I would like to thank both parties. The ICF board will review the train service agreement including the improved train schedule as part of the final approval process.”

Southern Rail (SVI) will provide a full service package, including marketing, operations and maintenance, and assume the passenger revenue risk with VIA contributing the train, insurance and a fixed subsidy.

“All train operations will be based out of Nanaimo which allows for an early morning southbound train to Victoria”, said co-chair Judith Sayers. “The initial schedule will be fine-tuned. It is the objective of the ICF and SVI to provide a dynamic passenger service that adapts to changing ridership needs."

Federal, provincial and regional funding agreements need to be finalized before track and trestle work can be tendered. Track and bridge improvements are estimated to take nine months once work commences.

Passenger rail was stopped in the spring of 2011 due to track safety conditions. The ICF secured $20.9 million for track and bridge improvements. Funds were committed on condition of securing a new train service agreement with VIA.

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