In a recent letter to the editor (‘Advantages of Rail’ The NEWS, Jan.6), the writer bases his favour of the railway being reinstated on the population of the Island growing from 150,000 to 780,000 over the last 50 years. What the writer fails to consider is the bigger picture.
Consider the Netherlands. At 41,543 square kilometres, it is larger than Vancouver Island, but the Netherlands has a population of 16.9 million compared to Vancouver Island at only 759,000.
Yet still the Dutch cannot make their up-to-date rail service cost effective. In fact, many stretches of railroad have been handed to private companies this past year, making passenger travel confusing and more costly.
Dutch highways are busy, though more so with bikes than cars. The needs of cyclists are taken into account in all stages of urban planning. Cyclists have the right of way in all situations and many roads have one or two separate cycle paths and cycle lanes are marked on the roads.
The writer also states “an updated rail system (on the Island) would support commercial traffic, containers and commodities.”
I suggest this is the real reason the railway proponents are pushing through the railway. It certainly isn’t going to be cost effective for passenger service.
The big question is: Do Islanders want their homes and roads to be subjected to the noise and inconvenience of commercial rail traffic?
By comparison, returning the rails to trails would bring clean quiet tourism that would benefit communities like Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Just like “eat local” — consume local is what will reduce the amount of traffic on our highways.
Susan BlacklinQualicum Beach