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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Rail costs would be sky-high

The author casually throws out figures of between $250 million to $400 million

To the editor,

Re: Trains would transform Island, Letters, Dec. 28.

The letter represents fantasy in the extreme.

First, the author references southern Ontario, the U.K., Europe and Vancouver to Seattle. In all four of these cases we are talking about millions of people, high-density situations. Vancouver Island, by contrast, is hundreds of thousands of people over 288 kilometres of rail corridor.

Second, the author casually throws out figures of between $250 million to $400 million as the capital cost without any substantiation for an expanded line to Campbell River, improved spur line from Port Alberni to Parksville, two new LRT lines to Victoria from the suburbs, and the overall upgrading necessary.

Obviously, the author is unaware that there are figures available concerning the existing line. The Friends of Rails to Trails Vancouver Island website says: ‘In 2009 an IBI Consulting report estimated that $118 million was required to bring the tracks to safe conditions from Duncan to Victoria for passenger service (including freight if not loaded too heavily). The cost to bring the Duncan to Courtenay section to safe operation was quoted in 2009 dollars at $103 million. This does not include $120 million to upgrade bridges and grade separations.’

Add up these three figures? Total $341 million. In 2009 dollars. That would be over $400 million in today’s dollars.

So the author’s budget is gone before 29 new stations, upgrade to Port Alberni, extension to Campbell River and two new LRT lines and stations in metro Victoria.

Oh, and no mention is made of: whether this is to be electric or fossil fuel powered or the level of the operational subsidy. And, of course, who is to finance it all?

A section of Kipling’s poem ‘If’ comes to mind: “If you can dream and not make dreams your master.”

Brian Peckford, Nanaimo

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.

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