Train-less rail line boosts cycling trail network in Greater Victoria

There are still no trains, but there is now plenty of activity along the historic railway corridor through Greater Victoria.

Sections of the E&N rail corridor right of way are being turned into bike and pedestrian paths that will tie together the existing network of cycling trails in the Capital Region.

The current phase of the Capital Regional District’s E&N Rail Trail – Humpback Connector project is a one-kilometre section between Maplebank Road and Hallowell Road, through Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations land.

Langford city councilor Lillian Szpak told On the Island host Gregor Craigie the rail trails are a welcome alternative to the steep hills in the area.

“Cyclists don’t really love that,” said Szpak, who is an alternate director at the CRD and an avid cyclist. “The nice thing about the E&N Rail Trail is it’s relatively flat. It goes the way of the train.”

E&N Rail Trail - Humpback Connector

Construction of a 1-km section of the E&N Rail Trail (shown in pink) between Hallowell Road and Maplebank Road is part of what will eventually be a 17-km cycling and pedestrian route. (Capital Regional District )

The CRD has voted to borrow $6 million to complete other sections of the rail trail between Atkins Road and Savory Elementary School in Langford, B.C., as well as from Esquimalt Road to the Johnson Street Bridge.

The asphalt trail is separated from the old railway bed by a safety fence. It will be 17 kilometres in length when fully built.

Room for bikes and trains

At the same time, a developer is proposing a commuter train service along the rail corridor from Langford to Vic West.

Szpak said the bike trails don’t affect the potential for a return of trains or other commuter transport along the rail bed.

“It is a wide corridor so you don’t feel that you’re up against a train track.  The train track is visible, it’s there,” Szpak said.

“But the design was specifically so the rail could run and we could have the trail.”

Szpak said Langford council is receptive to the idea of a Langford to Victoria commuter service along the E&N line.


VIA rail operated the daily Malahat service on the old E&N railway until 2011. (Alasdair McLellen/Wikipedia)

“At the risk of setting some people’s hair on fire I think it’s something we have to be open to,” she said.

“We haven’t addressed it formally at council, but our mayor, Stewart Young, is pretty excited about it. We want to see a solid business case, of course.”

The E&N rail service, which used to run from Victoria to Courtenay, has been suspended since 2011 because of concerns about the condition of the tracks.

To hear the full interview with Lilian Szpak go to Trainless rail line boosts cycling trail network.


Article Source: CBC

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