Island’s railway worth preserving

One option should be explored: run the railway as a ‘preserved railway,’ using the successful U.K. model.

To the Editor;

The venerable E&N railway is approaching a very important period in its history: whether the railway will continue or not. As politicians hesitantly debate its future, one option should be explored: run the railway as a ‘preserved railway,’ using the successful U.K. model.

Today, in the U.K., there are over 50 standard gauge and over 20 narrow gauge preserved railways in operation, offering scheduled passenger services with many operating all year round. The preserved railways were created by groups of people wanting to retain and operate local and historic railways, many using steam locomotives.

The foundation for an E&N preservation society is already in place, with scores of volunteers already maintaining the rights-of-way from Victoria to Courtenay and Port Alberni.

The preservation society could be the umbrella group to operate and maintain the railway, offering live steam excursions, Via Rail passenger operation, a scheduled freight service and a commuter railway for Greater Victoria.

Far fetched? No, as many U.K. preserved railways successfully do the same thing. A preserved railway would not only be an international tourist draw, it would be a magnet for the movie industry, which searches internationally for vintage railway locations.

What is most important is that a preserved railway would be a jobs generator. The financial spin off from a preserved E&N, from jobs to increasing business potential, would be tremendous.

Supporting a preserved E&N railway, would be supporting a continuing and viable economy on Vancouver Island.

Malcolm JohnstonDelta