Commuter rail mulled for E&N line, News, Oct. 5, 2011.
Is commuter rail realistic? Yes, but first an economical pilot project is needed to establish if there is sufficient interest by commuters before spending huge sums of money on establishing a fully-operating commuter-rail service.
The greatest “bang for the buck” will be a pilot project serving the areas with the greatest populations density (the Langford Lake-Langford-Dockyard-Victoria corridor) rather than going further afield through low-density areas.
The cheapest pilot project would use existing BC Transit buses and adapt them to run on rails (like railway maintenance pickup trucks).
These vehicles have the added advantage that they could be used for delivering passengers directly to downtown Victoria, crossing the Blue Bridge on their normal rubber tires, so no need for commuters to transfer to a shuttle-bus in VicWest.
However, before this pilot project could begin, the rail bed along this corridor must be upgraded. It is in deplorable shape.
After a successful pilot project, suitable rail cars could be ordered and used, and an extension up to Duncan and maybe Nanaimo could be considered.
Is commuter rail realistic? Let’s find out with a low cost pilot project that is easy and quick to implement.