EDITORIAL: Rail the real deal or election ploy

We're not getting our hopes up just yet about a commuter rail service

Just when we slam the province in this space for deciding it’s a bad idea to charge drivers two cents extra per litre for gas to help expand transit in the Capital Region, they jump on the commuter rail bandwagon.

Langford’s Stew Young and his fellow west side mayors, accompanied by Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone, earnestly trotted out railside in Esquimalt last week to help celebrate the prospect of a new transportation system on the E&N line between Langford and Vic West.

While the announcement offered some hope, we’ll wait to hold our celebration until more concrete plans are announced and the influx of pre-election promises have subsided.

Unfortunately, we’re a little jaded when it comes to rail announcements. You can’t really blame us, as we and other rapid transit supporters are often left feeling like Charlie Brown with Lucy pulling away that commuter rail football, just as we start to feel like it could be within our reach.

However, the glimmer of hope that comes from this latest announcement is the continued involvement of local businessman Ken Mariash, who has been ponying up his own money to see if this is in fact a viable option.

If Langford has proven anything to its Capital Regional District counterparts over the years, it’s that the City can successfully partner with business to make things happen for residents.

While many of these rail discussions are taking place behind closed doors, we can’t help but notice the arm’s reach status of rail bed owner Island Corridor Foundation, as other players pull up a seat at the table.

The corridor has been in the ICF’s possession for nearly 11 years and past promises seem to have ground to a halt. These latest talks could be their saving grace.

We’re cautiously optimistic that the business case, due this summer, will show how a new commuter service can work here and that funding critical track upgrades is a good investment.

As for the province’s involvement, we hope their presence helps pave the way – or clear the track – for a new commuter train or bus system to begin service.