Maintaining rail service on Vancouver Island is crucial to the area’s development, says Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon.
Commenting on a call by federal MP James Lunney for provincial support for the rail line, Cantelon said he has been actively working to resolve the funding crunch that has seen passenger service halted on the E&N line.
“In the long term, we need to go ahead,” Cantelon said. “I have been pushing for this pretty much daily.”
An estimated $15 million is needed to upgrade the line in order to meet passenger rail safety requirements and resume service.
“The point I made to the minister is that there is no plan B in place,” he said. “If you shut this down, you had better be ready for more than $15 million. It would be a shame to lose this before potentialities for tourism and freight are realized.”
Passenger rail service, he added, has great potential on Vancouver Island, as long as a strong business plan is in place.
“There’s good upside potential,” Canetlon said. “The potential for doing the extra commuter train has promise and the cruise ship terminal in Nanaimo has potential for rail excursions.”