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Future of Vancouver Island Rail Service Uncertain

Photo by Andriy Baranskyy

By Carissa Bluestone

Concerns about Via Rail service on Vancouver Island surfaced yesterday as the railway ferried the last of its Dayliner cars to the mainland over the weekend. Passenger service has been suspended on the Victoria–Courtenay route since March because of poor track conditions, including thousands of decaying railway ties.

Although VIA intends to restore service once the track is repaired, how long the suspension will last is unclear, as the project has stalled while the provincial government awaits funds from the federal government to match the $7.5 million it has pledged.

Train advocates, like Graham Hill, mayor of View Royal in southern Vancouver Island, have been vocal about preserving rail service on the island as a more pleasant alternative to driving the Malahat Highway and as a convenience for business travelers en route to Victoria.

If funding goes through, the route may be active again—possibly with fancier new Dayliner cars—in spring 2012. Currently, the only public transit along the route is by bus from Greyhound Canada and Tofino Bus.

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