Federal government to invest in restoring rail service

The federal government announced today it will set aside up to $7.5 million for the restoration of the Vancouver Island Railway.

The federal government has announced today that it will invest in restoring rail service between Victoria and Courtenay.

John Duncan, minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and MP for Vancouver Island North, announced today in Victoria that the federal government has set aside up to $7.5 million for work on the restoration of the Vancouver Island Railway.

“The restoration of the Vancouver Island Railway will create local jobs and economic growth, re-establish important passenger rail service for Island residents, and offer another route for visitors to this beautiful region,” said Duncan.

“The Island Corridor Foundation’s plan to revitalize passenger service and start train service in Nanaimo makes a new future for business and tourism possible,” added Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney.

Because of poor track conditions on the Vancouver Island Railway, passenger rail service between Victoria and Courtenay has been suspended due to safety concerns since March 2011. Freight traffic is currently operating at reduced speeds.

The total costs of the project, to be undertaken by the Island Corridor Foundation, are estimated to be $15 million. Of this amount, $500,000 has already been expended by the Province of British Columbia toward a bridge engineering study. The Government of Canada has set aside up to $7.5 million under the Building Canada Fund — Major Infrastructure Component toward infrastructure work such as the cost of ballasting and the replacement of track ties and joints. The Island Corridor Foundation will be responsible for any additional costs that arise as part of this project.

The work will address short-term operational issues, with the intention of making the corridor safe again for passenger service.

Federal funding for this project is conditional on the completion of a federal project review and the signing of a contribution agreement. Federal support is also conditional on the Province of British Columbia confirming its remaining contribution of $7 million toward the project. As well, the Island Corridor Foundation must confirm that no further federal investment will be required. This includes costs associated with repairs to the existing track and bridges, and the costs associated with building a new passenger station in Esquimalt to replace the municipally-owned terminal in downtown Victoria, as well as any other costs that might arise.