Train tracks in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Connect the dots, make rail a reality

Rail improvements will cost money, but so will alternatives, says letter writer

To the editor,

Re: Bringing back passenger rail won’t cut emissions much, Letters, July 6.

During the last 20 or so years I have watched the never-ending arguing about the future of the largely disused rail corridor up and down the Island. Meanwhile, the population of the Island has grown and is predicted to continue growing in the future. From my own observations, the volume of traffic on the Island Highway is growing exponentially. Recent events have clearly shown how vulnerable it is to disruption. If the road is cut, the north of the island is isolated as has already happened this last winter.

I have read a number of (gloomy) reports on the state of the old railway and estimates on how much it will cost to resurrect it. Naysayers say we can’t afford to resurrect it and we should use it for other things like walking/bicycling trails, etc. Are we nuts? Has there ever been a proper transportation plan drawn up for the future of the Island?

Are we just going to spend more and more money on upgrading this highway? History shows that all this does is attract more and more traffic, create more and more pollution and contribute even more to global warming. You never get ahead of the game.

Surely the present railway corridor needs to be converted into some kind of mixed traffic light rail transit system using hydro electric power. Yes, it will cost money. So do the alternatives. Progress always does. With a growing population and a convenient, clean, and efficient service, people will use it. It should be developed to connect major points on the Island, reducing traffic volumes and providing the security of an alternative route to the north of the Island. It will also clearly show that we are serious about combating global warming. Surely the money can be found.

One last point; if we give up the existing right of way, we probably have lost the opportunity forever.

All this is surely a no-brainer. Just connect the dots, let’s stop arguing, do the necessary work and get on with it for the benefit of all.

Glenn Thornton, Nanoose Bay

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Railway repairs would be less expensive than highway upgrade

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Flood recovery right time to assess Island’s transportation links

To the editor,

Re: Bringing back passenger rail won’t cut emissions much, Letters, July 6.

As a transportation consultant I had reviewed the Delphi Group study the letter writer cited.

Unfortunately it appears that the individual has cherry-picked the document. Because when you read through the paper it endorses rail over vehicular traffic, in particular for freight transportation.

Studies like this one have shown railways are three to four times more fuel efficient than trucks and/or reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 75 per cent.

Yet the author does not mention the resulting urgent need to shift heavy and longer-haul freight off overcrowded Island roads. In contrast the Island Corridor Foundation is addressing it in its rail business plan.

On the passenger side, the author has taken the VIA Rail’s systemwide data and compares it to far shorter inter-city bus trips. He also appears to then assume that Island rail ridership will be low.

This is a classic faulty apples-to-oranges comparison. When you match bus and train in the same 200-kilometre corridor, the train wins hands down every time as it can carry six times the passengers that a bus can carry.

Finally, the author avoids the issue that buses too are subject to the same delays and congestion as cars and trucks on the Island Highway, like over the Malahat. Resulting in more fuel consumption and, yes, emissions. Congestion and pollution that rail avoids.

Dave Hayden, Victoria

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.

Letters policy: Letters should be no longer than 250 words and will be edited. Preference is given to letters expressing an opinion on issues of local relevance or responding to items published in the News Bulletin. Include your address (it won’t be published) and a first name or two initials, and a surname. Unsigned letters will not be published.

Mail: Letters, Nanaimo News Bulletin, 777 Poplar St., Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 2H7

Fax: 250-753-0788


Letters to the editor

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