E & N Blues

Want to kill a Railway? Starve it of funds and let it rust away and this seems the fate of the E & N railway.

For a want of a mere $15 million to upgrade the tracks, the provincial government has loudly signaled that it wants to wash its hands of the E&N, especially when the same government subsidizes the Vancouver region’s SkyTrain/light-metro network by over $250 million annually and is pumping in billions of dollars on the grossly over engineered lower mainland Gateway project. BC Transit remains deaf, blind and dumb, with modernAi??transit planning centeredAi??on the the E&N (TramTrain?) and remain willfully ignorant of the RftV/Leewood valley TramTrain report. The City Victoria’s civic politicians remain myopic of the advantages of TramTrain operating on the E&N by not including a rail portion of the new Johnson Street Bridge.

Current light rail planning isAi??blundering ahead with a $950 million streetcarAi??line for the Victoria Region, which translates to no LRT because it is too expensiveAi?? (just what BC Transit wants!). Using the E&N railway would be a natural for a regional Tramtrain service and $950 million could provide bothAi?? LRT for Victoria and a Naniamo to Victoria diesel LRT service, providingAi?? a downtown to downtown service, guarenteed to attract ridership!

But no, not in BC, where cheap light rail or tramsAi??in Victoria means we could build cheap LRT or tramsAi??in Vancouver and that is a big no-no with regional planners in the Vancouver metro regions, where new highway planning (rubber on asphalt) trumps all. The result is that the E&N will continue to rust away, with nothing being done because those in the provincial and regional transportation bureaucracies just do not want affordable LRT in BC.

Watchdog will keep eye on rail foundation

Founder of ICF forms group that aims to inform public about challenges facing the E&N line

By Walter Cordery, Daily NewsDecember 19, 2011

One of the founders of the Island Corridor Foundation claims the organization has derailed its plans to be open and transparent.

Thursday, Jack Peake and other concerned rail advocates and professionalsAi?? announced the formation of a new group, which will act as a watchdog toAi?? advise the public about challenges facing the E&N as well asAi?? concerns with the decisions made by the ICF, a consortium of regionalAi?? districts, municipalities and First Nations.

Peake, the former chairman of the ICF board of directors and past mayor of Lake Cowichan, said people aren’t getting timely information from the ICF and is particularly concerned that two ICF committees that advised the foundation no longer exist. It’s one of the reasons he and others formed the E&N Railway Action Group.

“I am concerned that the ICF, a public non-profit organization, is not presenting any detailed plan for the future of the E&N, and has closed out important advisoryAi?? committees from its decisionmaking,” Peake said. “I fear that withoutAi?? input from the public, and professionals who have been involved with the railway for years, the E&N could be lost. Joe Stanhope, chairman of the Regional District of Nanaimo board, also a founding member of theAi?? ICF, agrees “we could always do a better job at communication.”

Right now there’s not much to tell the public as the foundation awaits wordAi?? from federal government to see if it will match provincial funding,Ai?? contingent on Ottawa’s contribution.

“We are in a hiatus right now,” said Stanhope.

He’s been actively corresponding with federal Minister of Transport,Ai?? Infrastructure and Communities Denis Lebel urging him to convince theAi?? rest of cabinet to get on board with the matching funding.

“I’veAi?? been writing letters to Minister Lebel but I’m not hearing much back,”Ai?? Stanhope said. The removal of the E&N’s Rail cars from the IslandAi?? last month shook Peake’s already waning confidence in the direction theAi?? ICF was heading.

“To me that was, unfortunately, the writing on the wall of the railway.”

The ICF acquired the E&N Railway in 2006, as a donation from Canadian Pacific and Rail America.

Last March, daily VIA Rail service between Victoria and Courtenay wasAi?? suspended after the track was found to be no longer safe for passengerAi?? trains. This prompted the ICF to step up its request for $15 million inAi?? federal and provincial funding to fix the E&N’s decayingAi?? infrastructure. However, the ICF has not publicly released any detailedAi?? plans on how this money will be spent.

Until its disbandment, theAi?? ICF received suggestions and information from a rail operations advisory committee, Peake was chairman of the committee. The foundation alsoAi?? received direction from a community advisory committee but that also has been disbanded.

Peake’s new action group has launched a web site, saveislandrailway.org, where people can learn more about the E&N,Ai?? and get involved.

WCordery@nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4237

E&N Railway Action Group

E&N Railway News and Opinions



Our Most Important Updates!

Our Press Release

New E&N Action Group demands better governance and transparency from Island Corridor Foundation

ICF founder expresses concern that Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway is in jeopardy

Thursday, December 15, 2011: Vancouver IslandAi?? railway professionals and advocates today announced the formation of aAi?? new E&N Railway Action Group, which will act as a watchdog to advise the public about challenges to the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway, and governance issues with the Island Corridor Foundation, which overseesAi?? the E&N rail corridor.

ai???I am concerned that the ICF, a public non-profit organization, isAi?? not presenting any detailed plan for the future of the E&N, and hasAi?? closed out important advisory committees from its decision-making,ai??? says Jack Peake, a co-founder and former co-chair of the ICF, and aAi?? spokesperson for the new Action Group. ai???I fear that without input fromAi?? the public, and professionals who have been involved with the railwayAi?? for years, the E&N could be lost. With the VIA Rail cars having been removed from the island on November 5, this concern has never been more real.ai???

Click here to read our entire press release and post your comments.


Comments are closed.