Letters to the Editor

Money for Island trains

A letter in (the Aug. 17) News calls the island railway “a money pit.”

For comparison, consider what taxpayers get for our dollar. For $20 million we can get the trains running from Victoria to Courtney. It sounds a lot but in comparison: $3.8 million will get six blocks of Temple Street paved. For $10 million we can widen about three blocks of Highway 19A in Parksville to four lanes.  For longer distances B.C. taxpayers got a highway from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish for only $700 million!

Your correspondent decries the previous rail “service.” I would agree but previously there was no “rail service;” just a daily excursion train from Victoria. (To do any business in Victoria, passengers from up-island had to spend two nights in that city — which made rail travel expensive)!

The rail improvements could be paid for out of the revenue from B.C.’s carbon tax.

The government seems to have trouble finding suitable uses for this tax. Rail (mass transit) would reduce emissions.

Another correspondent comments on the number of trucks on the highway to Port Alberni and the prospect of a fleet of trucks carrying coal from Cumberland (about 70 a day each way by some estimates).

Incidentally, such traffic would spell the end of Cathedral Grove as a tourist destination and the cost of a highway to bypass the grove would far exceed the cost of rehabilitating the rail line to Port Alberni.

The cost of building highways is vastly increased by the need to make them suitable to carry heavy trucks.

Thus, as truck freight is already very heavily subsidised; perhaps rail needs more attention?

It doesn’t really matter which arm of government is in the taxpayer’s pocket so long as we get some value in return!

W. H. Atwood


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