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Passenger train returning to Port Alberni’s waterfront in summer 2024

Train will run along a shortened track for one-year contract
The R3 diesel locomotive pulls out of the Alberni Pacific Railway roundhouse in July 2018, preparing to take tourists from the train station in Port Alberni out to McLean Mill National Historic Site. (SUSAN QUINN PHOTO)

Train rides will be returning to the Port Alberni waterfront this summer.

Port Alberni city council has agreed to enter into a one-year agreement with the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society (IHS) to operate a short-track passenger train service along the waterfront.

The train, which will be pulled by a diesel locomotive instead of a steam train, will run a round trip from the train station between APD Sawmill and Dry Creek, a distance of approximately 1.3 kilometres, starting in mid-June.

Ticket sales will start around mid-May. In a previous report, IHS vice president Richard Spencer said tickets prices would fall somewhere around $6 per rider.

READ MORE: City of Port Alberni gets closer to bringing back train

The city will be contributing $113,935 to the IHS’s capital budget and $60,000 to its operating budget, with funding either coming from the Growing Communities Fund or reserves.

Spencer told council during a committee of the whole meeting on April 15 that the IHS is working “very closely” with Technical Safety BC to get the train back on track.

“We feel that operating along the short track of the Alberni waterfront for this year can provide the community an exciting and educational community-focused attraction that will help build the experience on the waterfront,” he said.

Along with the train service, the IHS also hopes to run trips with a speeder along the waterfront.

Ultimately, the IHS wants to see the train—with a steam engine—return to McLean Mill, but this will not happen until a business and feasibility plan is complete. In the meantime, the city is offering the IHS a one-year contract to see how the passenger rail service is received by the community.

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions described it as “a leap of faith” on April 15. Passenger rail is not a new service for the city, she said, and the plan that the IHS has put in place for this year is an affordable option focused on the community, instead of tourism.

“I think that’s what they need, is just to be given a chance,” said Coun. Charles Mealey.

Construction will get underway this month to repair the track at Athol Street and Harbour Road, which will allow the train to operate this summer season. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are encouraged to use Dunbar Street or Argyle Street as an alternate route while construction is underway. Detailed construction information can be found on the city’s website at

Information on 2024 rail operations, volunteer opportunities and more will be found at

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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