It is with great sadness and frustration I write this, as the possibility of losing the E&N Railway line forever is drawing closer. The fact that freight by rail would remove up to 25,000 truck trips annually and thus eliminate up to 3,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases makes the decision to retain the Island Rail, a no brainer. This coupled with an amazing opportunity to promote our tourism sector by offering rail trips up and down the Island.
Mayors are in strong support and recognize a new and invigorated rail line marketing their individual communities would bring a real boost to their town’s livelihoods. The cruise ships could offer trips by rail with stops connecting to points of interest all along a fabulous 289-kilometre coastal rainforest journey. Of course, the biggest beneficiary would be us islanders who live on this beautiful island.
Another positive, there are many who choose not to drive over the Malahat so sadly do not connect as they would like to, to family and friends. With this rail option, it would give them the freedom to visit more often. This is the biggest decision the federal government has made concerning Vancouver Island in decades. Imagine fellow islanders, a rail line properly funded, one that we can be proud of connecting all communities to one another.
With proper scheduling one could visit farmers markets, Cowichan Valley wine tasting, the Duncan Museum, take in forest walks…the possibilities are endless! By establishing this rail line the highways will be safer to drive on, cost less for their upkeep, and revitalize communities alongside them. Judith Sayers, the Nuu-chah-nulth president who backs the rail revival, recognizes the Indigenous tourism potential could be extremely beneficial to First Nations.
We have a real treasure here, one that our children and grandchildren could be benefiting from. The possibility of electric rail and island transit will never happen if the corridor is destroyed.
We must insist that our MPs who are our voice in Ottawa, realize like the rest of the world has, that having a properly funded, properly marketed tourism draw like a coastal rainforest train, is an opportunity that only comes along once in a lifetime.