I am concerned about the low level of service that VIA Rail is offering citizens of Northwest BC.
Today is February the 9th and I just dropped my wife off at the George Little House Railway Station in Terrace.
She will be travelling to Prince George and once again the train was cancelled and a bus ride was offered instead.
Friends of ours with two little toddlers were also very much disappointed that the train would be replaced by a bus.
The train is also more often an hour or two or three late than it is on time.
Increasingly local people are beginning to think twice about taking the train when traveling either east or west.
I believe VIA Rail is doing a poor job of managing this line – the route between Prince Rupert and Jasper.
They need to adequately staff this route with engineers or we will continue to experience cancelled trains and disappointed passengers.
I am also very concerned that VIA Rail has tested a single unit commuter style train that formerly serviced the E and N railway on Vancouver Island as a means of cutting costs on the line between Prince Rupert and Jasper.
It apparently was tested last fall – according to the information provided to us by a conductor on a recent trip to Edmonton.
I believe these units would be highly inappropriate on this northern route for the following reasons.
1. These commuter style single unit trains are not designed for long distances.
They would be a serious down grade in comfort – think riding on an old school bus.
2. The current heavier and more robust passenger train units are much safer in the event of a head on crash with an oncoming freight train.
Passenger safety needs to remain a top priority.
3. These smaller units are also more at risk if a small landslide were encountered or a large mammal like a bull moose was hit by the train.
Both of these events happen with some frequency on this line.
4. Instead of promoting this area and its tourism potential and this particular train trip, which is one of the most spectacular in the country, this move would discourage tourism in the area.
It takes a lot of different pieces working together to create and sustain tourism.
5. The residents along this line are having to put up with the major inconvenience of waiting at rail crossings as extra long freights either zoom by or shuttle back and forth.
Reducing the level of passenger service offered to local residents is not the way to endear the trains and the train system to the general public.