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Vandals cut railroad tracks in Alberni

Alberni Pacific Railway volunteer Kevin Hunter stands at Mile 31.7, north of Smith Road, where someone has used a torch to cut two lengths of railroad track at a popular 4x4 crossing. - SUSAN QUINN/Alberni Valley News
Alberni Pacific Railway volunteer Kevin Hunter stands at Mile 31.7, north of Smith Road, where someone has used a torch to cut two lengths of railroad track at a popular 4x4 crossing.
— image credit: SUSAN QUINN/Alberni Valley News

Someone has cut two lengths of railroad tracks north of Smith Road near McLean Mill, putting railroad volunteers in danger, says Hugh Grist of the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society.

The damage to the rails was discovered last week in an area near Mulcaster Swamp.

Two lengths of track approximately 20 feet long were apparently cut with a torch and removed. Some railroad ties were also damaged, Grist said.

The area appears to be popular with recreational 4x4 users, Port Alberni RCMP Cpl. Jen Allan said. The RCMP are looking into the vandalism.

The cut tracks would not interfere with the popular steam train run between the Port Alberni Train Station and McLean Mill if it were in operation, Grist said. However, there are volunteers who regularly drive a high-railer or speeders on the Port Sub, beyond the mill, for brush clearing and visiting speeder tours.

Grist didn’t have any information on the cost of the damage or who will have to pay for it. He said the IHS will meet next week with Island Timberlands, the Island Corridor Foundation—which is responsible for the tracks— and the RCMP to determine what to do about the vandalism.

“We have rail, we have ties, we have volunteers who can replace it. That’s not the big issue,” Grist said. “It’s the safety issue we’re worried about.”

Anyone with information can call the Port Alberni RCMP at 250-723-2424 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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