The local East End Track Gang was joined by rail enthusiasts from all over Vancouver Island for work on a new siding switch on the Parksville to Port Alberni subdivision of the E&N Railway, allowing continued use by speeders.

Volunteers work the rails between Parksville and Port Alberni

The East End Track Gang continues to do some work on the railway for the speeder cars

Work is progressing nicely on the Port Alberni railway.

While the E&N Railway’s 62 km Port Alberni Subdivision — the spur of tracks to Parksville — has been “dormant” for eight years, local hobbyists have not only kept it in working order, they are adding features.

While various levels of government and the Island Corridor Foundation (which owns the tracks), continue to talk about re-establishing train service on Vancouver Island, members of the Canadian Railway Historical Association have been hard at work.

In 2008, local supporters, mostly hobbyists who restore and run “speeders,” small rail cars, formed the East End Track Gang (EETG) to maintain the Parksville to Port Alberni stretch for their own use, along with some dreams for the future.

The group works with the Alberni Pacific Railway, which runs a historic steam train to the McLean Mill National Historic Site near Port Alberni and there has long been talk about trying to get the steam train on the Parksville run.

While the tracks are closed to full size trains, speeder groups have been touring through the region regularly. Enthusiasts come from all over the continent, including a group of 17 vehicles, many carrying several people who spent several days in the area last month.

While the local EETG members spend a lot of time clearing the tracks and keeping them in shape for their little vehicles, they were recently joined by members from all over the Island for more substantial work, adding a siding switch, or pull-out spot at the foot of Station Road in Coombs, just across from Goats on the Roof, and co-ordinating nicely with a trail being built beside the railway from Parksville.

Supporters say the work doesn’t hinder any future options for the railway, and may help encourage more support for re-establishing service.

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