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The Island Corridor mystery continues to baffle us all. Even though Island communities have now contributed hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to support the railway, we still don’t have any real commitments or specific plans for rail service.
We do know that millions more will be required to upgrade the tracks. And still, I think we are getting only part of the story. We never mention what I think is the major issue, and that is public safety.
When the track was constructed, the population of Vancouver Island was maybe 80,000 people. Now there are approximately 800,000, with all our major traffic arteries close to the rail line. So the big issue is the safety of the crossings. In fact, I can think back over the 50 years I have lived on the Island to a sad list of traffic and pedestrian fatalities involving the E&N Railway. Are we really prepared to let this situation continue?
There appear to be no crossings on the Island that approach the safety standards that we should expect in urban or suburban areas. I don’t believe any country with a modern rail system would tolerate this situation.
So let’s get real — unless it includes upgraded crossings with sophisticated signals and moveable barriers, the rail line will continue to be a serious public safety problem. In the absence of urban safety solutions, talk of schedule changes and track upgrades is not only unrealistic, it is dangerous.