E&N Rail Dayliner derailed by Conservative neglect
April 11th, 2011 - 2:02am
On the 125th anniversary of rail operations on Vancouver Island, the Dayliner passenger service between Courtenay and Esquimalt was indefinitely cancelled, due in large part to a lack of investment from the Federal government.
“The deterioration of the rail line was entirely preventable,” says Randall Garrison, NDP candidate for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. “It’s disappointing that the Conservative Government lacked the vision to see the economic and environmental benefits of investing in rail for Vancouver Island.”
“Despite this setback, I think it is important to commend Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) for it’s work – maintaining the lines to this point, while working with stakeholders to develop a 21st century business plan for commuter and freight service.”
As an Esquimalt Councillor, Garrison worked with the ICF and BC Transit in cooperation with the Capital Regional District, Langford, View Royal, Esquimalt, Victoria councils and local First Nations to produce a business case for repairing the lines and developing rail services.
“For less than half the estimated costs for the proposed Mackenzie overpass – a traffic control strategy that does nothing to reduce traffic volume - we could take immediate action to get thousands of commuter cars off the highway,” says Garrison. “The ICF’s research on this is staggering. By reducing truck traffic the ICF projects a 10% carbon emission reduction. When you look at the potential boost to tourism and the local economy and how drastically we could reduce accidents, it’s hard to understand why investing in the E&N hasn’t been a Federal priority.”
The ICF has secured buy in from Via Rail to add a commuter-timed service, increase the number of passenger cars to meet demand and improve freight service. The ICF has municipalities on board to invest in infrastructure, even the Province was open to investing the in the E&N line if the Federal Government would invest $15million to repair the lines.
Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder and Victoria MP Denise Savoie have been pressing the government to fund the railway maintenance. “If the rail hadn't been allowed to degrade so much in the first place, the repair bill wouldn't be as high as it is,” Savoie said. "Unfortunately, the former Liberal government didn't make CP Rail maintain the line when they ran it, and the Conservative government continued with that neglect."
For more information, please contact:
Randall Garrison, NDP Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca
Office (250) 590-7160
Cell (250) 812-8519