E&N upgrade costs far outpace funding

Bridges a problem for ICF if it hopes to reignite rail line

Re: Rail proposal leaves out Langford commuters (News Gazette, Dec. 19)

For the past few years we have heard about the re-opening of the E&N Railway to passenger traffic again and by 2015.

We have been told that track conditions forced its closure in 2011 and no wonder, practically every tie is almost dust, rails are old and many date back to the early 1900’s and are worn out, as is the hardware to keep them together. This railway needs new rail, new ties and all associated hardware.

The sum quoted of $20.9 million might get it as far as Victoria to Goldstream. It was estimated some years ago that to rebuild the E&N to modern standards would cost between $400 and $500 million.

However, there is one particular part of the E&N which nobody seems to care about. That is the bridges along the line.

Fourteen miles north of Victoria is the Niagara Canyon Bridge, a span 529 feet long and 260 ft. high that was built in 1911. In a survey completed for CP Rail in 1995, it was determined that the bridge was nearly to the point of needing to be condemned. Then we have Arbutus Canyon Bridge at Mile 14.9. Also built in 1911-12, this bridge is 462 ft. long and 220 ft. high and is also near the end of its lifespan.

There are many other bridges on the E&N that are equally worn out, as has been determined by the total closure of the line south of Nanaimo  and north of Nanaimo by B.C.’s transport safety board.

Rebuilding or replacing these structures and upgrading the rail line itself would cost far in excess of $400 or $500 million between Victoria and Courtenay.

Implementation of a commuter service between Langford and Victoria could be established reasonably easily, providing you could get equipment to Victoria over the bridges. There are no major bridges to cross between Langford and Victoria.

However, a commuter service must not charge more than the current bus service otherwise it would be useless to implement.

Patrick O. Hind

View Royal

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