E&N rail has potential for freight, tourism, commuters

Great news that some essential funding has come to the E&N railway

Great news that some essential funding has come to the E&N railway, and will help the Island Corridor Foundation to demonstrate that this railway can be very useful to residents of the Island.

By the way, the Island Corridor Foundation didn’t just happen 10 or so years ago — it took a small group of forward thinking Island people to bring it into being.

I was a member of that group and must point out that most of the credit goes to Tanner Elton, who conceptualized the foundation through a round table process involving all concerned parties, including First Nations.

Hopefully Graham Bruce, the current chief operating officer of the ICF, will actively bring forth some of the better operating proposals for the E&N, ones that were originally put forward to augment regular freight, as a basis for the structure of the ICF model when it was put in place.

A most important proposal was a win-win situation for both the railway and the Island in general. That is for the E&N to convey solid waste from collection points along the line between Victoria, Port Alberni and Courtenay to a central thermal electrical generating facility located mid Island.

We on the Island produce daily more than enough solid waste material to feed such a plant. Why, the Greater Victoria area alone produces about 350 tons daily, and Hartland Road dump has a limited life left.

The second proposal is rail tourism. A train of privately owned, high quality, restored and safety certified 1930s heavyweight passenger cars, a diner and observations are available, presently stored in New Westminster.

For both these proposals, though, the E&N-ICF will have to take the initiative and lead in developing them.

The third proposal is commuter services. In Victoria, the E&N line into town from Langford to Victoria is the natural and most sensible choice. But it could be endangered.

Is it possible that the taxpaying public should be asking if there might be some kind of a connection between the mayors of Saanich and Victoria and the developers of the Uptown mall.

Some fear these guys are deliberately playing down the existing E&N route so as to blast away a billion dollars on a rail line down Douglas Street directly to the Uptown mall.

Oh, and a note to the ICF people. This island railway has a long established identity, known as The E&N Railway. Several years ago, Island Farms did a wonderful job of promoting this railway to one and all as the “E&N.”

Thousands of Vancouver Islanders relate to the railway under this identity. Don’t rename it but capitalize on what is already known and recognized.

Ken Showers