The current condition of the E&N rail bed (as seen below) continues to deteriorate, and without a huge subsidy of money any rail service is highly unlikely.
Our vision would create non-motorized*, multi-use, community trails on Vancouver Island for all users whether bikers, walkers, hikers, horseback riders or commuters. Converting more rails to trails on Vancouver Island, with the already existing Galloping Goose Trail in Victoria, would be a drawing card to national and international visitors alike, boosting the local tourist economy.
The project would maintain the railroad history by converting the historic railway stations to tourist information centres or kiosks which would direct people to local attractions and accommodation. The cost of developing the trail should be minimal as the salvage value of the steel rails could go towards their removal. Removal would be done with the least amount of disturbance, leaving the rail bed in a condition suitable for immediate use by recreational traffic, with the addition of a top dressing of fine gravel or pavement in the future. Utility companies, such as, gas, water and power may wish to utilize the corridor for their infrastructure, and by leasing out this opportunity, future maintenance costs of the trail could be minimized. With a multi-use trail in place the corridor will always remain intact, and when future rail transportation is required, which may be quite some time in the future, it could be constructed where needed, while relocating the trail alongside the new infrastructure.
By making active trail transportation a viable option for everyday travel we would cost-effectively reduce oil dependence and climate pollution while providing better choices to get around. Rail-trails will encourage healthier, more mobile lifestyles for people of all ages and abilities by providing places away from vehicle traffic to walk and bike. They support a viable alternative to the automobile and contribute to a more vibrant community by connecting people to the places they live, work and play. They encourage people to get outside and get active by using the trail for local visiting and shopping and maybe even taking a Rail-trail vacation, seeing the countryside from a perspective once enjoyed only by train travellers.
With the demise of rail service on the E&N it is time to seriously consider not putting any more tax dollars into maintaining a crumbling railway infrastructure, and instead using the railway corridors for the development of non-motorized*, multi-use trails.
*non-motorized includes e-bikes which are generally classified as bicycles because they only have a small motor to assist a rider’s pedal power.