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Rail survey finds strong support for revitalized service on Vancouver Island

81 per cent of respondents from Victoria to North Island support enhanced rail service
A freight train makes its way over the Black Bridge in Duncan in this file photo. Currently the only strip of track still in use is a seven-kilometre stretch in Nanaimo that services Superior Propane. A new survey from Island Corridor Foundation found siginificant support for getting trains up and running again. (Black Press Media file photo)

Supporters of restoring passenger rail service on Vancouver Island are buoyed by the results of a new public survey on the topic.

Released Oct. 9 by the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF), the survey done by Webstation Global Business Solutions includes responses to a variety of rail service-related questions from nearly 3,000 residents living in communities adjacent to the rail corridor.

The results paint a picture of general support for the idea: 81 per cent of respondents selected “strongly agree” (68 per cent) or “agree” (13 per cent) to the statement, “We need to revitalize and modernize the rail service on Vancouver Island for public and commercial rail use.”

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The 2,979 individuals whose responses were used in the survey were grouped into five geographic regions, with 44 per cent from Greater Victoria, 20 per cent each in the Cowichan Valley and North Island, 13 per cent in Nanaimo and three per cent in Port Alberni.

Strong regional response to the need for a modernized and revitalized rail service came in the two largest population centres. In Victoria, 86 per cent of respondents chose agree or strongly agree, while in Nanaimo, it was 76 per cent.

The survey, available on the ICF website between Sept. 18 and 26, also asked for opinions on whether immediate provincial and federal funding should be made available to implement rail service (80 per cent agree or strongly agree), a belief in the viability of rail transportation on the Island (79 per cent yes), and the statement that rail service would “enhance tourism and provide other positive economic opportunities” on the Island (82 per cent agree or strongly agree).

“The results should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that the people of Vancouver Island want to see rail service restored,” said ICF CEO Larry Stevenson in a release.

The survey has a margin for error of less than three per cent and has a 90 per cent level of confidence using standardized criteria from McGill University, stated Webstation.

Find the complete survey results at the Island Corridor Foundation website.

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