Transport Action BC

2012, April 12

Transport Action BC Praises Investment in Vancouver Island Railway

Filed under: Announcement, Inter-city rail, shortline rail — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 11:40 pm

The government of Canada announced its half of the $15 million to save and rehabilitate the Vancouver Island Railway. The railway owned by the Island Corridor Foundation has been gradually detiorating and VIA Rail passenger service was cancelled last year due to poor track conditions. The other half of the money was committed by the BC government, and $500,000 of that money was used for an inspection of the bridges. The results of the study haven’t been released but sources say that the bridges are generally in good condition have just been released, see below.

Transport Action is pleased to see the governments make investments in rail infrastructure, and is happy that the actions of everyone who contacted their MP or MLA made a difference.

Federal Government Invests in Restoring the Corridor

Story from Nanaimo Daily News

E&N Bridge Assessment Reports
More to follow on this item.


2011, May 9

More items on Vancouver Island Rail

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 6:09 am

The following piece was submitted to the Nanaimo News Bulletin by Transport Action member Ian Gartshore.  Originally published Apr 16, 2011.

The familiar whistle of the VIA Rail passenger train has become silent.

The deteriorating state of the tracks that had been neglected under the former owners has finally caught up to this now publically-owned railway. If an investment of $15 million is not initiated this spring, the railway will be gone for good.

Critics say that if the railway can’t pay its own way, then it should die. Strange thinking when all other modes of travel are heavily subsidised by various governments.

Why are railways alone not considered to be an ‘investment’ like roads, airports, and cruise ship or ferry terminals?

Perhaps this is because rail travel is seen by most to be a ‘thing of the past.’

Only in Canada. All other industrialized countries in the world (and many developing nations as well) are heavily investing in their rail infrastructure.

Not here. Ours are disappearing.

This is occurring at a time of rapidly rising fuel prices, increasing concerns about air quality and greenhouse gases, unstable economics due (in part) to rising energy costs, and the much higher costs of providing adequate infrastructure for trucks, buses and cars.

Maintaining the hundreds of kilometres of roadways in Nanaimo alone costs us property owners nearly 40 per cent of our annual tax bite. Fully half of this year’s increase in taxes is due to the widening of Bowen Road (and associated infrastructure).

The billions of dollars being spent on overpasses in the greater Victoria area to only briefly alleviate the ‘Colwood crawl’, as well as to build the new bridge and widen the Trans Canada highway east of Vancouver so that shipping companies can move goods from the port of Vancouver into the rest of North America is being paid for by you and me.

Yet improving the rail infrastructure would save us a huge chunk of this investment, reduce traffic congestion, improve road safety, reduce pollution and greenhouse gases, improve local economies and create more jobs.

Former provincial transportation minister Kevin Falcon recently indicated that he now thought our railway was worth investing in (something he blocked while being the minister in charge).

Only the province is balking at investing in this vital corridor, as the federal government has promised funds if the province would match them.

When will Canada join the 21st century?

Only when we taxpayers have said “enough”. Only when we have decided that becoming sustainable is not only better for our pocketbooks, it is simply wise.

Ian Gartshore is the President of the non-profit Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island.

2011, April 17

Another reason to keep Vancouver Island Railway

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Matthew @ 9:25 pm

Interesting that the Malahat was closed for much of today due to an accident with a tanker truck.
CBC News story: Tanker spill closes Hwy 1 at Goldstream

A fuel tanker crashed and overturned near Goldstream Provincial Park Saturday evening, spilling 30,000 litres of fuel and closing the Trans-Canada Highway into Sunday.

There is no other viable road linking Greater Victoria with the rest of Vancouver Island, so the parallel railway gives another option to travellers if the highway is closed for an extended period.

2011, April 6

Vancouver Island railway in dilapidated state

Filed under: Inter-city rail — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 10:42 pm

The VIA Rail dayliner on Vancouver island between Victoria and Courtenay has been cancelled until further notice. The dilapidated nature of the track has finally been noticed by the authorities. In the meantime, the train service is being replaced by bus, and there’s no word on when the train service will come back.

According to VIA’s press release:

“An inspection of the tracks and structures between Victoria and Nanaimo was conducted jointly over the last two days by Southern Railway of Vancouver Island (SRVI), the BC Safety Authority, the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and VIA.  Following that inspection, SRVI informed VIA of its decision that significant infrastructure improvement will be required before passenger rail service can resume on this route.”

The problem has been years of neglect and systematic under-investment in our transportation system for years, except for highways, which are lavished with funding.  The provincial government needs to immediately follow the recommendations of the Island Corridor Foundation which calls for $30 million dollars in funding for urgent repair of ties, rails, and ballast. This will also enable the re-jigging of the passenger schedule to doulble the service and enable a commuter service to be added to the existing Victoria-Courtenay-Victoria daily round-trip.

What you can do is contact the powers that be at the Island Corridor Foundation’s You can help make a new passenger rail service a reality page to help get funding to repair this vital transportation link.

VIA Rail Canada press release

Island’s Dayliner train parked indefinitely due to track problems – by Sandra McCulloch, Times Colonist

Island Corridor Foundation – the owner of the railway corridor

Vancouver Island Railway

Corridor somewhere between Courtenay and Qualicum Beach Aug-2008

2011, February 17

Hopes for improved Vancouver Island Rail

Filed under: Inter-city rail — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 12:30 am

The  Island Corridor Foundation which owns the former Esquimalt and Nanaimo railway on Vancouver Island has put forth a new plan to rehabilitate the track between Nanaimo and Victoria, switch the terminus from Victoria to Nanaimo and add additional VIA service to the line.

You can read more about the service plan on their page. This is  a less ambitious plan than a few years ago, but it would be a vital first step to revitalising the railway and increase the patronage on the trains. The plan would introduce an early morning run from Nanaimo in the morning appealing to commuters before the traditional departure from Nanaimo, up island to Courtenay. In the afternoon the train would arrive back in Victoria in time for take the Victoria commuters back to Langford, Duncan and as far as Nanaimo. They are asking for the federal and provincial governments to put in $15 million each. They point out that there has already been $30 million in investment around and along the corridor including $4 million in ties, signals, and ballast, a new bus exchange at the Langford station, new Admirals Road crossing, 2 new rail and bike bridges, and a rebuilt Nanaimo train station.

Transport Action BC supports this plan and encourages members and the public to show their support by contacting the BC Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Transport, and politicians in charge. The Island Corridor Foundation has put together a list of people to contact.


Courtenay Station



2010, August 25

Vancouver Island Railway Study Released

Filed under: Announcement, Inter-city rail — Tags: , , — Matthew @ 1:03 am
VIA Rail train arrives in Courtney, BC

Popular VIA Rail train arrives in Courtney, BC

The provincial study on the future of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway (now owned by the Island Corridor Foundation) on Vancouver Island was released recently. The summary of the study basically concludes that it is not worth investing any money in the railway corridor.

The full study can be found on the BC Ministry of Transportation site.

The E&N railway is now owned by the Island Corridor Foundation. Rail service is contracted to the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island. Freight service only exists along part of the line between Courtney and Duncan. There is one round trip passenger train every day from Victoria north to Courtney and a return trip to Victoria in the afternoon. The segment of the line from Parksville to Port Alberni is out of service, although a tourist train operates on a portion of the railway near Port Alberni.

One of the main problems with the rail corridor is that right of way is overgrown, tracks are worn out and years of deferred maintenance have taken their toll. Train speeds must be reduced due to the poor quality of the roadbed. This further diminishes the competitiveness of the rail service. The Island Corridor Foundation was hoping to get an investment from senior level governments to upgrade the line so it could support better VIA Rail service, commuter rail in the Victoria area, re-open the Port Alberni line and attract more freight service.

It is disappointing to public transport advocates that the province of BC has no problem dropping $24 million on new interchanges (eg. McTavish Rd in North Saanich). The province, with help from the federal government will spend $1.184 billion on the South Fraser Perimeter Road (expressway). These road projects seem to get announced every week with no year-long half million dollar studies, but for non-highway projects the province isn’t interested in supporting them.


Map of the Island Railway Corridor (Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway)

The route of the E&N Railway on Vancouver Island. By Matthew Buchanan (Transport Action BC)

Create a free website or blog at