VICTORIA -- Repairing the Island Rail Corridor (formerly the E&N rail line) for commuter use between Victoria and Langford would cost approximately $600 million, according to the B.C. government.

An assessment undertaken on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says that significant repairs and upgrades to the rail line would be needed in order to safely offer freight and commuter rail service.

Last summer, the ministry conducted site investigations across the entirety of the track and categorized sections of the rail corridors as being in good, fair or poor condition.

The study found that, overall, the rail line was in “poor to fair” condition.

Assessments concluded that the road bed and track structure was considered to be in “poor to fair condition” across the rail line.

Meanwhile, bridges ranged between “poor and good” condition, depending on their location and age. Grading crossings were considered to be in “fair” condition, though some areas were “overgrown with vegetation and/or require improved warning systems,” according to the ministry.

The study broke down the entirety of the Island Rail Corridor into six segments.

  1. Victoria to Langford
  2. Langford to Duncan
  3. Duncan to Nanaimo
  4. Nanaimo to Parksville
  5. Parksville to Courtenay
  6. Port Alberni subdivision

Train segment map

The study found that installing a commuter train line from Victoria to Langford would cost approximately $595,029,867.

The commuter rail service would stop at five stations between the two communities, pictured below:

Train report

A more comprehensive rail line that would connect all six segments of the rail corridor, from Victoria to Courtenay, plus a subdivision track to Port Alberni, would cost approximately $326,448,391 in its initial phase.

To upgrade the corridor to optimal levels, the province says it would require roughly $728,778,304.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure notes that the published study represents the assessed condition of the rail line, and provides an estimate on how much it would cost to repair it up to serviceable levels.

"Conducted by railway industry experts, this thorough assessment provides a complete and accurate picture of the railway infrastructure, from ties and track to grade crossings and bridges,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure in a statement.

“There are no decisions given nor recommendations made. It is factual, giving us a complete, up-to-date picture of the corridor.”

Trevena adds that if any future rail plans do arise, the B.C. government will host discussions with local First Nations that would be impacted by the project.

The ministry says that it is still developing a South Island Transportation Strategy to improve travel efficiency in the region.

The strategy, which is expected to be released in June, will cover all modes of transportation. 

The full Island Rail Corridor report can be found online here.