Does anyone really believe that rail service on Vancouver Island can be restored for $30 million?
The article printed August 13 states, “ridership was up six percent annually during the last six years of operation.” Obviously that was not enough because the E&N couldn’t even pay for basic railroad operational costs such as rail and stringer replacement.
The construction of Highway 19 made this railroad obsolete.
As for the costs estimated for bringing back the railroad, I can see the bridge over the Tsable river costing $3 million dollars alone to repair to the standard needed for locomotive weight.
I think a realistic budget needed to put a Vancouver Island railroad back in business should be more in the range of $150 million.
I can tell you what $30 million dollars can buy — a world class dedicated multiple-use path. Scrap the steel rails, pull out the stringers, and pave it over.
The bridges will be less costly to repair because they will not have to support as much weight. There are many spots along the way where small campgrounds can be constructed away from residents. It would bring in tourist dollars that would be spread to small business all along the route.
The last thing I want to see is the corridor not being used for the next ten years while we bicker over it. This is a treasure that needs to be utilized for the economic and environmental good of Vancouver Island.