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LETTER: Support for rail line driven by nostalgia

In 2011, due to the disrepair of the railway, Via Rail and Southern Railway suspended indefinitely the Dayliner passenger service, the Victoria–Courtenay train. Via and Southern Railway did offer a bus service for several months after the closure, but the service was discontinued the same year as fewer than 10 people a day used their temporary bus service.

I concede that it “isn’t my grandfather’s railroad,” as in my grandfather’s day they did in fact use steam. Still, the Via passenger service in question, used Budd-built Rail Diesel Cars (Dayliners) technology from the ’40s.

The letter writer attempts to compare the technology of the RDC to that of light rail: light rail is designed for lower-capacity intercity travel; heavy rail is high-capacity for cities with large populations. Light rail is cheaper because it is smaller, light-weight, and more compact.

Within an alternative transportation modes feasibility study, the old technology fails to make the grade. The cost to upgrade the system into a sustainable transport alternative is significantly more costly than future-proofing current infrastructure for vehicle traffic. Given the dismal ridership, the rail would require substantial taxpayer subsidies to remain in operation.

And contrary to the writer’s defence that, “billions of people ride trains on this planet” – it is done so in a variety of technologies, few if any are environmentally responsible.

In reality, as a “modern solution,” only the expansion of EV transport, addresses all the needs of our population, and doesn’t destroy land, contribute to habitat loss, species depletion, and more.

There’s a problem with romancing nostalgia: it tells only half-truths. We often remember the idyllic conveniently forgetting the bitter realities.

William Perry