Freight a focus for Southern Rail

More freight needs to be hauled if railway is going to survive in the long term

Along with passenger service, officials with Southern Railway and the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) want to see more freight rolling down the tracks in future.

Frank Butzelaar, the president of Southern Railway, said increasing the amount of freight being moved is a key aspect to revitalizing the railway as a whole.

“That’s a big part of how we keep the whole thing sustainable for the long run,” he said. “Passenger service was the first thing to restore, and we’ve accomplished that. Now we need to have some freight revenue to help carry that cost as well.”

Island Corridor Foundation president Graham Bruce said having the tracks restored gives the railway an opportunity to go after more industrial business.

“We can be much more aggressive in trying to attract business back to rail,” he said. “When its hanging over your head that it might not be there in a while, it’s hard to convince shippers to  go with trains over trucks. Now we can be very aggressive and attract major resource companies.”

Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney said it makes sense to use rail transport.

“Rail is a much more reliable way for industrial cargo,” he said. “Distances aren’t great on Vancouver Island, so we don’t need a rocket train, but we need reliable service.”