Province announces 'vision' for commuter rail service in Capital Region
The B.C. government says it has a vision for commuter rail service between Victoria and Langford, but there's no timeline of when it could happen.
The province scheduled a news conference Thursday morning with Transportation Minister Todd Stone and local mayors to announce it has started a working group to address commuter rail in the Capital Region.
“We will complete the business case and take the leadership role in getting that work done, with the goal being to finally get on with commuter rail here on the E&N line from Langford into Vic West,” said Stone.
He said mayors of Langford, Esquimalt, Victoria and View Royal have been proposing the province review the use of the 15-kilometre stretch of E&N rail line from Westhills to Vic West.
“We’re turning the five to seven years of talk into action,” said Stone. “I’m really pleased to say on behalf of the province of British Columbia that we are turning the concept that has been discussed for so long into reality, and it starts today.”
The province-led working group will consist of representatives from the ministry, local governments, BC Transit and the BC Safety Authority.
Local First Nations will also be consulted by the group, according to Stone.
BC Transit will also be “closely involved” to ensure any commuter rail service is integrated into the rest of the transit services it offers in Greater Victoria.
Langford Mayor Stew Young said without the transportation ministry stepping in, the project would never get done.
“The highway is full and this one is empty, so this is just a common sense approach,” said Young. “We’re growing. We need to make sure we service the community and make people be able to get to work in a reasonable time.”
No timeline was given for the project, but a business case is expected in July.
It’s unclear where the funding for the line would come from, but Stone said federal partners were “intrigued” by the project and looked forward to reviewing the business case.
In December Ken Mariash, the developer behind Vic West’s Roundhouse project, said he was spearheading efforts to revive the rail line, which has sat dormant for more than five years.
He also predicted a price tag for commuters at the time: $3 to $4 each way.
The event was held 9 a.m. at an E&N train stop at Admirals and Colville roads in Victoria.