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Nanaimo Port Authority and Southern Railway looking at excursion train to lure cruise ships

As work continues to finalize a deal to re-start passenger service on the E&N rail line, the Nanaimo Port Authority is looking into passenger trains of another sort.

The NPA says it’s working with Southern Railway to see if they can create a “World Class” rail excursion service.

The Nanaimo Port Authority’s David Mailloux says it’s all tied to attracting more cruise ships. 2014 is a slow year for Nanaimo’s multi-million dollar cruise ship facility, with only two large ships making calls.

Mailloux says they’re already working closely with the railway on moving cargo, so a project like this would be a natural fit.

Southern Railway’s J. Singh Biln says they’ve has concluded negotiations with VIA Rail, and the train services agreement should be signed and finalized by the end of the month. That will free up the funds necessary to fix up the tracks on Vancouver Island to accommodate passengers trains. Biln says the rail tours for cruise passengers would be a separate service from the commuter trains that would run along the Island Corridor, but they would share the same tracks.

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If their study shows it’s workable, the NPA and Southern Railway would start rail excursions in the summer of 2015.

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