Peake says rail line needs more money

Jack Peake, former town mayor and long time resident of the area, is skeptical about funds allocated to upgrading E&N railway track

Jack Peake, former Lake Cowichan Mayor and long time resident of the area, is skeptical about funds that have been allocated to the upgrading the E&N railway track that runs from Victoria to Courtenay. Peake has lobbied the provincial and federal governments to get on board with this project for a number of years. When the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) first took over the railway, it conducted a study, which Peake says identified that $105 million would be needed in order to properly rehabilitate the rail line. At that time, Peake says the funding would have been split three ways: $35 million from the province, $35 million from the federal government, and the remaining $35 million coming from the ICF itself. “That would have brought the main line, from Victoria to Courtenay, right up to first class standards.”

But Peake is not just concerned with making the rail service first class. He says that the $105 million would have gone into new ballast, ties, and track. Peake’s feels that the $15 million combined federal and provincial funds of $7.5 million each, is not enough. “At the moment, passenger service has been discontinued due to the poor condition of the track. One of the biggest problems with this road bed is it’s still some of the original road bed built by the old Dunsmuir Family, and E&N/CPR, and there’s more dirt in it than ballast. It grows trees and weeds really well.” And even though at the time of the original ICF report the many bridges along the route looked like they were in good shape, Peake says he is anxious to see the current bridge report which was due on March 1, of this year. The bridges, if not structurally sound, will have a hard time dealing with passenger, tourist, and gravel train traffic. “This report is key to the future of this railway,” says Peake.

Peake feels that in order to ensure passenger safety and provide a well functioning rail service, the rail line needs to be upgraded incrementally, starting from Victoria and the western communities and working north. Sections of the track have been upgraded over the years, for example the section that crosses the intersection in south Ladysmith at the top of Chemainus Road, but Peake feels this is not enough. “This $15 million, although it’s beautiful and wonderful and all the rest of it, first of all has to be well used, and is only the beginning.”

The liberals project that the line will be in use is early 2013, but Peake doesn’t see how this could be possible. “The executive director of ICF keeps talking about the work itself not getting started until Sept./Oct. Now you’re into another winter. You have gone all summer with very little train operation so the road bed is continuing to deteriorate. If you work through the next winter with only $15 million there’s no way you’re going to get that up and running with passenger service, which (the current president) says may be possible by the following spring or fall.”

Peake also says he would like to see the train run both north and south between Victoria and Courtenay, allowing the many passengers who commute the ability to get into Victoria from northern parts of the island.

The Budd cars, as Peake calls them, belong to VIA Rail and the ICF owns the land the track is on. The cars were supposed to be refurbished, but Peake does not know where the trains are, or if they have been refurbished. “They are still in Canada, whether they’re being refurbished or not, I don’t know. But you know, those particular types of equipment are available all over North America in large numbers.” He says that in Washington and Texas there are warehouses full of these Budd cars waiting to be leased or purchased.

Peake’s long term plans include eventually get the line running out to Lake Cowichan once again, but that is a ways down the road and he is taking things one step at a time. He feels that the broader issues, such as the E&N rail line, effect the Lake Cowichan community, and he hopes that local residents can see that upgrading the Island Corridor route also helps to preserve a part of the island’s history.


Just Posted

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Mariah Segee (centre) was named 2021 Lady of the Lake last Saturday, with Megan Rowbottom (left) as first princess, and Macey Anderson (right) as second princess. (Submitted)
Lady of the Lake returns to Lake Cowichan

Mariah Segee takes the crown in first pageant since 2018

Darren Campbell's truck was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch (pictured) on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
UPDATE: Cowichan Bay Good Samaritan’s stolen truck recovered

‘Very much appreciated the help from so many people. I hope the very best for all of you’

Threads N Tails owner Lee-Ann Burke’s pet clothing has been featured on the cover of the June/July issue of Pet Connection Magazine. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan business featured on magazine cover

Lee-Ann Burke hopes the extra publicity will increase sales

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Most Read