Letters to the Editor

Island rail questions

We keep hearing about the proposed reopening of the rail line on the Island. However, with each update, the story changes. First, the repairs and upgrades would cost about $105 million then, a mere $21million would be sufficient.

That was supposed to enable VIA Rail service from Victoria to Courtenay. However, the last report says that the new plan is to open only between Victoria and Nanaimo, and there will need to be a station built in Victoria, and also a maintenance depot in Nanaimo.

As I understood it, the money donated to the project was on the assurance that it would cover the cost to reopen the whole line, not just a part thereof. Consequently, all contributions by municipalities north of Nanaimo will not now gain any benefit from the money their taxpayers have spent on the project.

I also feel people are not asking some relevant questions of the Island Corridor spokespersons, questions like:

• Has there been a feasibility study done to see if this project would be a viable proposition? Since it closed because of lack of funds for repairs, I suspect the answer is probably a negative.

• Has there been a proper study of the line? Is it a possibility that the ties will be replaced, only to find that the line still will not pass a safety inspection?

• The line has been closed for 3.5 years. Presumable, the original quotes are out of date by now.

• What happened to the Dayliner?

• How much would a new maintenance building cost, and is the equipment required still available, or would new equipment need to be purchased?

• Has anyone researched available land for said maintenance building? Would Nanaimo council give required planning permission for the land to used for that purpose? Ditto for the station in Victoria.

It seems to me that this project has been poorly researched, and even more poorly costed out and planned. Numerous people have been quoted as saying that we need this rail service, but did anyone ask these people if they ever used the service when it was running before — not even on a regular basis, but even once?

The fact is that Vancouver Island does not have near the population base to be able to run this kind of service, and the whole thing is merely a fantasy, that taxpayers will have to pay for with their federal, provincial and municipal dollars.

Hopefully, more intelligent brains will prevail, and stop this expensive folly.

Kathy Robinson


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