To the Editor,
After 10 years of communicating with the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF), then finally negotiating with them and the Alberni Pacific Railway management team, I was finally given the green light to start up Coombs Handcar Adventure Tours in the summer of 2016. As the operator, I simply referred to myself as HandcarMan.
Maybe you were fortunate enough to pump the handcar yourself, or perhaps read about it in the Alberni Valley News, or maybe even saw it running along the tracks while passing through Coombs, but what you were witnessing was in fact part of a much bigger story. The whole picture involves the entire railway track, in particular, the Port Alberni—Parksville—Nanaimo section.
There has been a lot in the media recently focusing on the mainline further south, i.e. a Langford—Victoria commuter rail service, but right here in your own backyard a much needed commuter rail service is possible and, more importantly, within reach. For the most part, all that is required is the continued cooperation of ICF and the Alberni Pacific Railway (APR), municipal government support (some members of Port Alberni city council so far lead the way), one or more savvy financial investors, and a railway passenger vehicle light enough to safely cross trestles and bridges along the route.
The tracks, thanks to the volunteer work of the East End Track Gang (on the Parksville/ Coombs side), along with crews at the Alberni end of the line, are in good enough shape to support a low-speed, light-weight passenger rail vehicle. And the good news is, that special vehicle is out there, and I would be happy to lead you to it.
This could be and should be the year to get this commuter rail service operating. I know that many of you are tired of hearing about it, even somewhat skeptical and rightly so, weary and leery of the political gamesmanship. Forget about waiting for provincial and federal support. Make this a privately run enterprise.
Properly managed and without a huge initial investment, this could be a very profitable business.
Many people are already making these daily commutes by car and bus, and many more are unable to get from A to B to C simply because no such rail service exists. We can make it happen. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.