Safety is number one

ICF still waiting for the bulk of the funding it needs for the rails

The Island Corridor Foundation’s plan to re-start passenger rail service is now in the hands of the B.C. Safety Authority.

ICF CEO Graham Bruce has consistently said the service could be re-started with $21 million of funding from the regional districts, the province and Ottawa. The ICF has about $7 million from the regional districts and is awaiting the balance from Victoria and the federal government.

“The ministry has completed its review of the Island Corridor Foundation’s business plan,” a B.C. Ministry of Transportation official told The NEWS last week. “The B.C. Safety Authority has engaged a consultant to review the upgrade plan.  Viability of the service requires that both plans be considered together because financial predictions in the business plan will depend upon the upgrade and long term maintenance requirements.”

Passenger rail service was suspended in 2011 due to unsafe track conditions. Parksville-Qualicum Beach MLA Michelle Stilwell echoed the comments of the transportation ministry spokesperson.

“The province’s position has been really clear: we’re committed to supporting the corridor, but plans for rail service have to prove that service will be both safe and sustainable,” said Stilwell. “Safety is my first priority no matter where or when the train travels.” Stilwell also didn’t rule out a different use for the corridor. “I want to see the island corridor used in a way that has the most positive and long-lasting impact for the people and businesses in our community and all of the other towns and cities that have a stake in this process,” she said.

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