EDITORIAL: Rail success falls on riders
Trains will once again be moving along the E&N line from Victoria to Courtenay, hopefully much faster than the speed of government.
It took almost a year for the federal government to come through with $7.5 million to upgrade the rails, combined with the provincial government’s equal portion announced last June.
By this time next year, residents will be able to hop aboard Via Rail’s refurbished Budd cars at Nanaimo’s renovated historic train station to take an early morning commuter train to Victoria. Lockers for skis and storage for bikes should attract more riders, looking for a stress-free trip to the Capital Region or to the Comox Valley for skiing and mountain biking activities.
It took a community effort, from local, provincial and federal government representatives, plus support from residents and community groups to make the track upgrades a reality.
Even Nanaimo’s train station, ravaged by fire, was a community effort at revitalization which saw young professionals lead the way to raising the money needed to restore the burned-out shell of a building.
The timing couldn’t be better. By creating commuter rail, people have the option to avoid the congested Malahat drive – as well as traffic backups at Duncan and Mill Bay – and save some money on gas, which will likely reach more than $1.50 a litre by next year.
The government listened to the community and came through with an investment in alternative transportation on Vancouver Island. Now the community must show the government that it was a worthwhile investment by buying a ticket and climbing aboard.
That’s the only time residents should sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.