Railways still make sense elsewhere; why not here?

Dear editor,

It’s a shame that Mr. Peter Whyte considers that the railway is outdated, and that right-of-way should be the preserve of those fortunate enough to live beside it. He is forgetting two things: first, and this might be debatable, it is private property and he is trespassing (although since the Island Corridor Foundation is in the hands of local governments, it could be considered that he – as a taxpayer – has every right to walk along it). Secondly, the inference is that railways are not useful: I suggest he sits beside the CP right-of-way through the Fraser Canyon – or better yet the Cajon Pass in California – and watch the mile-long trains line up to pass through. In Europe, too, the railways are very efficient, and carry both freight and passengers more safely and economically than by road. On R-O-Ws that have been “dating back to the 19th century”, heaven forbid.

What is a shame is that the aforementioned CP should have let the Island’s line deteriorate to a point where it is almost unusable. What is certain, however, is that CP found it expedient to let the provincial and federal governments expend taxpayers’ money on building roads, so that they could increase their trucking system at the expense of the railway. And I don’t hear Mr. Whyte complaining about us ubiquitous taxpayers having our money being spent on highways. I mean, he can get down to the malls in Nanaimo so much easier now, and his property value has increased with the influx of those of us who can get a better house up here than in, say, Victoria. Nor does he complain about the volume of trucks that pound up and down our highway systems: a 50-car train would certainly be more effective and cleaner than 50 trucks.

Should the Raven mine get off – no, into – the ground, I for one would be pleased if the rail line to Port Alberni would be repaired to take the coal, rather than the road to Port Alberni  being upgraded for the huge number of trucks envisioned.

 

Peter Blackmore

Courtenay