The announcement this week that the province will pony up $7.5 million to upgrade the E&N rail line on —half of what is needed — is good news to MP James Lunney.
“This is something we have been pushing for for some time,” Lunney said Wednesday. “I’ve been on the E&N file for years now and we’re very keen to go ahead, but I knew we weren’t going to secure federal funds without a provincial commitment and the premier heard that from me on election night.”
However, says the representative for the Nanaimo-Alberni riding, any federal matching funds are going to have to be pried out of the vault.
“We are working with staff in the new minister’s office to secure matching funds,” Lunney said. “The challenge today is that we’re winding down the economic stimulus packages, so there’s less money and more competition. But now we’ve got a commitment on board, as long as we have infrastructure dollars left, I’ll be banging on the door.”
Lunney said a good case can be made for accessing federal dollars, particularly in light of the strong support shown for continued rail service on Vancouver Island.
“I never had a blink of hesitation on this,” he said. “I know how much support there is for continuation of rail service. We don’t need a rocket train, but we need reliable service.”