The province remains firm in its pledge to provide $7 million to get the E&N Railway back on track.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone made the commitment recently to the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF), which owns the E&N right of way from Victoria to Courtenay.
He said the pledge means passenger rail service is one step closer to resuming.
The provincial contribution is contingent on the ICF confirming $7.5 million in federal funding, and showing that the cost of upgrades to get rail service up and running will not exceed $20.4 million.
The ICF is is a partnership between First Nations and local Governments along the E&N corridor. Its board is composed of 12 Directors: five from First Nations, five from Regional Districts and two members-at-large.
Member communities of the ICF Board have committed an additional $5 million toward upgrading the line.
But plans to get trains back on the rails – passenger service was discontinued in 2011 due to concerns over the condition of the tracks – have failed to materialize.
At a recent NDP open house, convened by Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley, the ICF and province were criticized for taking too long to get the line back in service. An incremental approach to getting trains running again was suggested.
A recent announcement by the federal and provincial governments committing $85 million to complete a new McKenzie interchange on the busy commuter section of Highway 1 into Victoria prompted several letters to the Times Colonist suggesting commuter rail along the E&N corridor would have made more sense.
“How about having a commuter train service from Langford to Victoria using the existing railbed upgraded to provide a service similar to Vancouver’s West Coast Express?” said Dr. Julian Hancock.