Don’t discount effectiveness, value of Budd rail cars in rail discussions

Letter writer naive in understanding of railroading, Metchosin resident writes

Re: ICF headed down wrong track (Letters, April 11)

I don’t know anything about Alan MacKinnon, but he seems rather naive in his understanding of the basic requirements to revive rail traffic on the E&N railway.

The railway is in a sad state at the moment and Island Corridor Foundation CEO Graham Bruce doesn’t appear to be doing anything constructive, rather, he is talking in circles.

The restart costs and capital required are substantial, but for MacKinnon to suggest those costs should be inflated by adding hi-tech, multi-million dollar rolling stock at the beginning is very premature and somewhat “pie in the sky.”

The first requirement is to get the system running again, as reliably and inexpensively and safely as we can. For passenger service, this has to be the Budd rail cars. Age has nothing to do with it. These cars are built strongly, mostly of stainless steel, and are of proven reliability and design.

Accommodating some wheelchair passengers can be done if you think ahead. But every situation can’t be covered in a restart situation.

Cost of maintenance of the Budd cars? Well, consider that new railcars will cost over $1 million each. Compare capitalizing those to the predictable and basic maintenance costs of the proven-designed Budd cars.

Consider also that many modern high speed light rail cars are designed to operate on fairly level roadbeds. They are lightweight, with small wheels, and this combination tends to cause wheel slip on track gradients over about one-half per cent. This wheel slip creates a cupping action on the railhead, which quickly leads to rough and noisy operation of the railcar.

If Mr. MacKinnon knew anything much about railroading, he probably wouldn’t have written that letter.

Ken Showers