Many reasons why a train line would not work here

Dear editor,

I can’t sit by and not rebut Mr. Blackmore’s letter entitled Railways still make sense elsewhere; why not here?(Aug. 13)

Seriously, you think these arguments warrant spending tens of millions of taxpayers’ money on a pie in the sky scheme that has a minuscule chance of ever being financially viable? So let’s look at his statements.

First he says that railway rights of way are very efficient means of moving freight and people, witness the Fraser Canyon. This particular railway is one of only a few east-west connectors for all of Canada. There are no others. So to imply that the heavy use of this line can be applied to all Canadian rail lines is ludicrous.

Secondly, he states that railways in Europe very efficiently move passengers and freight. No argument there. The point Mr. Blackmore is glossing over here is that Europe has over 700 million people living in a relatively compact area. So moving people via rail makes lots of sense and is very efficient and cost effective. Canada, on the other hand, has just over 35 million people spread over the second largest country in the world. The numbers just don’t add up. The only locales where it does make sense is in densely populated areas such as the Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa triangle. On the opposite end of the scale is Vancouver Island. With a total population of just over 750,000 spread over more than 32,000 square kilometres rail transport just doesn’t make sense. In my humble opinion it will never make money. As for moving coal to Port Alberni, that’s a completely different rail line.

It would appear that this whole idea is the pet project of the “train hobbyists.” Fair enough. If they want to have train travel on Vancouver Island let them raise the money. What irks me in all of this is the astronomical amounts of money that all levels of government have promised. What a waste! I think it’s time that we, the taxpayers, demand that these funding commitments be withdrawn. Folks, this is our tax money. Money that could have been spent on an indoor tennis facility, or a curling rink or, better yet, a sewage treatment plant for Victoria. What’d you say? Let’s ask for this nonsense to stop right now.

Andrew Clarke

Comox