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LETTER: Time to move on from impossible Vancouver Island rail dream

Re: ‘Solid support for rail service on the Island’ (Letters, PQB News, Nov. 18)

The survey was not widely publicized and open only for nine days in September, hence the low return rate of just 2,979 submissions. I suspect those that answered probably had a vested interest in the project or were friends of the Island Corridor Foundation. Review of the 15 pages published suggest this was a deliberately worded questionnaire asking idealist questions that would entice positive answers.

The survey summary shows wishful ‘belief statements’ especially the first item quoting “over 89% of respondents would use the passenger rail if it met their needs.”

Another nebulous question was “belief in subsidies” which was not quantified for participants.

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I would welcome a train as shown on the cover of the report which is a modern three-car train similar to the UP Express running from Union station Toronto to Pearson airport which cost some $4.5 million each. The foundation is toying with a restart using old dilapidated Budd circa 1962 diesel polluting cars. Modern rail systems are electrified. To entice passengers away from the comfort of their automobiles the infrastructure would require massive upgrades.

What happened to the $15 million federal and provincial government money committed in April 2012 to upgrade the system? Eight years on we are still spending money without results.

Let’s divest ourselves of this impossible dream and concentrate on essential road improvements. Even if the Island population were to double in the next 50 years the old E&N rail system could never satisfy modern travel or freight needs.

Ripping up the rail lines will provide valuable sellable scrap iron and help subsidise the cost of turning the right of way into hiking and tourist friendly trails with minimum future upkeep costs.

John O’Brien

Parksville

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