Vancouver to Prince George rail should return, says Lillooet
Passenger service ended in 2002
The District of Lillooet is lobbying higher levels of government to bring back passenger train service between Vancouver and Prince George, but the province says it is not on board with the idea.
The service was discontinued in 2002, and Lillooet Mayor Marg Lampman says that has hurt her community.
"We [have] no bus service here, so the rail line was an essential hook up for us to go down to the Lower Mainland for medical appointments and for social events," she told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen.
"It's something that needs to come into the picture because of all the emphasis being put on carbon emissions and ways to get vehicles off the road. Passenger rail service has been proven to do both of those."
Lampman says bringing back passenger rail service will not only help her community become more connected but also help other communities by attracting tourists to ride the line for its "breathtaking" views.
She says if the provincial government is serious about reducing B.C.'s carbon emissions, this would be a good start.
"They're looking at … all the other ways of reducing greenhouse gases, but yet we have Highway 99 on the Sea-to-Sky which was re-done for the Olympics, and it is already to capacity," she said.
"The building that's going on on the Sea-to-Sky, especially around Squamish is going to put thousands of more vehicles onto that highway. We need to find a better way to alleviate that demand for the present and the future."
At least one other municipality agrees — North Vancouver's mayor, Darrell Mussatto says it could be a boost for all cities along the route.
"Hopefully you could bring tourism to not only the North Shore but all the way up to Prince George, I think it would be a great idea."
Province not on board
But the provincial government says bringing back the train doesn't make sense, as fewer people are choosing rail service and the cost of railway maintenance is rising.
The service was shut down in 2002 because it was losing millions of dollars every year.
With files from Radio West
To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Lillooet mayor calls for return of Vancouver to Prince George rail service
With files from Kamil Karamali