The CEO of the Island Corridor Foundation says the new assessment of what is needed to restore the old E&N railway line to working condition provides clear options for different levels of service.
Larry Stevenson says the WSP Canada report that was released on Tuesday contains “no surprises” and addresses exactly what the province asked for.
He says people need to look past some of the higher cost estimates in the report and understand the “ultimate” commuter service mentioned is just one option and not really needed at this time.
Stevenson says the initial commuter service will be similar to the Westcoast Express between Mission and Vancouver, “it’s going to be smaller, scaled back, and it’s going to run only during peak travel times.”
Stevenson explains, “when you look at the phased in approach they put in, and the different price levels they put in – being initial, intermediate and ultimate – within that part of the report they’re still going to deliver commuter service, it’s just not going to be the commuter service that you see for that five-hundred-and-95-Million dollar price tag.”
He believes commuter rail at first will be a way to relieve Greater Victoria’s rush hour congestion.
“They can ease into it and build into it, any investment that they made at any level of this is contributory to the next level should they get there.”
Stevenson says they would like to talk to the government and consultants behind the report to question some of their estimates.
For example, he says some of the estimates for contingencies are up to 30-percent higher than he would have expected.
Stevenson points out that the economic boost of an infrastructure project of this nature would be quite a benefit to Vancouver Island’s economy.
In 2019, the province commissioned an in-depth track and bridge assessment to be used for future decisions on investments in the corridor, which is owned by the Island Corridor Foundation.
The ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is currently developing the South Island Transportation Strategy which will look at all modes of transportation, including rail, and is expected to be released in June.