To the editor,
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the E&N right-of-way. I’m seeing the same financial illiteracy from those advocating for renewed passenger rail service as I was from those advocating for a publicly funded hockey arena in Nanaimo.
In both cases, advocates are ignoring the most basic problem: affordability.
Returning passenger rail service to north of the Malahat will cost hundreds of millions in initial investment and millions every year in operational subsidies.
Who is going to pay those costs? It will not be the less than 500,000 residents scattered over 30,000-plus square kilometres and multiple municipalities and First Nations. It will not be the provincial government: Neither the B.C. Liberals nor B.C. NDP have shown any interest while in power of spending this kind of money in an area with only five MLAs out of 87, and thus limited political value. It will not be the federal government: Neither the Liberal Party of Canada nor the Conservative Party of Canada have shown any interest. No other parties will form government in Victoria or Ottawa in the foreseeable future.
Bringing passenger rail back would be great in a perfect world. Who doesn’t love trains? Some of my best memories have been on trains, in eastern Canada, the U.S.A., and Europe – places with the population base and political clout to afford them. But just like a hockey barn in downtown Nanaimo, the financial reality is that nobody is willing to fund renewed passenger rail north of the Malahat.
After ten years of rotting rails, it is time to stop dreaming, do the math, and then move on.
John Dacombe, Nanaimo
The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.