Why By Rail?

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See greenhouse gas emission comparisons, traffic estimates, all in one comprehensive spreadsheet at What are the Numbers.

Coal is hauled by rail all over the world, including all but one coal mine in BC*.  Why?

Trains can haul 40 or more cars, taking the place of more than that amount of trucks.  All while emitting 10 times less greenhouse gases and consume less fuel.  Southern Rail of Vancouver Island predicts 1.4 million kilograms less CO2 will be emitted in a year transporting Raven Coal by train than by truck representing 1.9 million Litres less Diesel fuel consumed.

The potential for accidents on a railway are greatly reduced.  While accidents can always happen, the simple numbers tell us, 1 train a day, crewed by 4 people, on a line only with other tightly scheduled trains will probably have less accidents, causing less damage and less loss of life and limb than 150 truck trips (there and back) every day driven by 15 drivers amongst 5-10,000 other vehicles.  Statistically, there are 12 times more people killed involving trucks than involving trains and on Highway 4 that translates to 1 fatality every 2.5 years versus 1 every 29 years. (The life of the mine is slated to be 15 years).

Taxpayer Cost:
The Island Railway is in a unique position being owned by the Communities, First Nations, and Taxpayers along the line through the Island Corridor Foundation.  If we compare the 25km, $40 Million, Horne Lake Connector with the maximum $140 million needed (source: E&N Study Freight Analysis ) to revitalize the 290km Railway for freight service on the entire Island we can see that the Highway costs $1.6 Million per kilometer to the rail line’s $500,000 per kilometer.  So the rail line is 1/3 the cost per kilometer and yet delivers far more benefits in the form of removing trucks from the highways, reducing highway maintenance and safety costs, and delivering actual revenue back to the rail line which pays for all operation and maintenance costs and would even pay back the initial investment over time.    The latest figures being used by the Vice-Chair of the Island Corridor Foundation and Mayor of Port Alberni, Ken McRae is $20 Million.  So half the absolute cost of the Horne Lake Connector and significantly less per kilometer.

The economic argument for rail over building a dedicated highway for the trucks is extremely strong.

*The Quinsam mine near Campbell River transports coal by truck 30km to a small loading dock at Middle Point.  No rail lines exist in the area even though historically there have been many.  The E&N when first conceived was slated to go all the way to Campbell River and even cross over to the mainland across Quadra and Saturna Island but did not due to delays, politics, and World War I.  There is still a major rail based logging operation near Woss north of Campbell River with over 100km of track through the hills.


Follow the Ruts…
Where do we put it? >>