Crews salvage historic Esquimalt & Nanaimo route into Victoria, B.C.

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VICTORIA, B.C. — Contract crews this week removed a short but important stretch of track that had enabled VIA Rail Canada’s Malahat to serve downtown Victoria directly. The service is currently shut down, its future uncertain. If it does return, the train will have to call at a station on the city’s west side where rails remain.

The Johnston Street Bridge, a joint rail-road structure, had brought the RDC-powered train to VIA’s Victoria station. However, inspectors found structural problems with the bridge last year, and the city decided not to add a rail component to the replacement bridge. The track removal was necessary to enable construction of the new bridge.

Bridge conditions across the publicly owned Island Corridor Foundation main line from Victoria to Courtenay, B.C., led to the Malahat’s cancellation last year. A report on the condition of the bridges is due out soon, and based on it, track owner Island Corridor Foundation will decide whether to make repairs, enabling restoration of the Malahat, or shut the line down. Southern Railway of Vancouver Island operates freight service on the line.

The corridor was historically Canadian Pacific’s Esquimalt & Nanaimo subsidiary, providing freight service on Vancouver Island through a carfloat operation out of Nanaimo, B.C.
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