Island commuter rail worth investment

Nanaimo residents should utilize E&N rail.

To the Editor,

With the provincial government’s recent $7.5-million pledge for upgrades to the E&N rail line, commuter train travel on Vancouver Island is likely to be saved.

The money pledged by the province is expected to be matched by the federal government, which will contribute another $7.5 million. According to Graham Bruce, executive director of the Island Corridor Foundation, if the deal is announced soon, passenger service could resume by mid-October.

With the likelihood of passenger service starting this year or early next year, the hard work for VIA Rail and the Island Corridor Foundation will have just begun. At the gathering in Nanaimo where the funds were announced, Premier Christy Clark stated, “in the long run for this railway to work people need to use it.”

And with these words the premier was dead on.

Nevertheless, commuter train travel is both cost effective and environmentally friendly, and people on Vancouver Island should choose to ride it for these reasons alone. If travelers can see the many benefits of having the E&N rail line running again, then ridership will increase naturally. The City of Nanaimo and its citizens should not leave advertising to VIA Rail alone, but should collectively promote this great addition to our city by other means as well.

In the past decade, gas prices in B.C. have nearly doubled with prices as low as 60 cents per litre at the turn of the millennium. Now hovering around $1.20 per litre, it doesn’t look like the upward trajectory of gas prices will end any time soon.

In the coming years the number of cars on the road will also increase and with it will come an increase in traffic and greenhouse gas emissions. According to Nanaimo’s Official Community Plan, Nanaimo’s population is expected to grow 30 per cent to 102,000 by 2016, and then almost 50 per cent to 118,000 by 2030.

With these economic and population pressures in mind, travel alternatives will become more and more important in the future.

One of the objectives of the Official Community Plan is to promote a regional transportation strategy, and the proposed E&N train line meshes perfectly with this goal.

Nanaimo residents should utilize E&N rail because it’s an environmentally friendly and economical way to travel the Island.

The train route also just so happens to offer amazing sights of flowing streams and lush green forests.

David Geselbracht