A multi-use trail is the only financially viable option for E&N Rail bed

Dear editor,

It’s my understanding that the Regional District of Nanaimo and the City of Nanaimo have put forth a motion supporting the Friends of Rails to Trails Vancouver Island initiative to convert the E&N Rail bed to a multi-use trail. The CVRD should also support this idea and introduce a similar motion.

Here are just some of the reasons why it makes sense.

Passenger service on the corridor stopped in 2011 and the corridor has continued to decay. There has been no outcry to restore the lost transportation almost no one used prior. Since my land abuts the track I can with confidence report there was never more than a few passengers in the car in either direction.

The ICF (Island Corridor Foundation) is in debt.

They owe the CIBC approximately $892,000 and they owe the Southern Railway $175,000.

This adds up to over $1 million. These are both callable and secured by the foundation’s assets so they either have to keep borrowing or sell off public assets. It is highly irresponsible of decision-makers to continue to put the corridor at risk in this way.

This is putting a publicly owned treasure in great jeopardy.

Even so, there are some who continue to romanticize about rail travel on the island without concern for the facts.

The existing rails cannot support light rail transit so even if passenger service was restored the speed at which the train travels would remain absurdly slow, there would be no increase in ridership. The existing tract would have to be replaced to offer high-speed travel. Even then, with the sheer number of uncontrolled crossings along the corridor, high-speed train travel is at best unrealistic.

Canadian Pacific Railway sold this corridor for a buck in 2006 and received a nice $38 million tax savings for their trouble.

Having worked for CP for many years I know they would not have turned over a valuable asset for a mere $38 million one-time tax credit.

How much would it cost to turn it into a viable rail transportation corridor? At least $1 billion – let’s be honest. Vancouver Island has neither the population, freight, or resources required to see this to fruition.

The idea that a train service could operate with a non-motorized trail right beside it is not even possible as there are dozens and dozens of sections where it has been deemed (by engineers) impractical to have a shared railway and trail.

A trail along this corridor would be such a boon to this island that it boggles the mind that there is so much resistance in the halls of decision makers.

Marie Gaudreau

Union Bay

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