Southern Railway of Vancouver Island

The Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway ( since 2006 after ten years and several name changes E & N Railway, or simply called E & N ) is a 160 km long rail link on Vancouver Iceland, the upstream far the largest of the Canadian Pacific coast islands. The E & N Railway connects the provincial capital of Victoria on Courtenay - with spurs to Parksville and Port Alberni - Nanaimo with. The track is since 2006 owned by the Iceland Corridor Foundation, a foundation of the local Indian organizations and communities, and is run as Southern Railway of Vancouver Iceland.

The diesel passenger trains are maintained on behalf of VIA Rail Canada. So the Malahat runs daily between Victoria and Courtenay, with fixed holding in Duncan, Nanaimo and Parksville, as well as request stops. In Nanaimo and Victoria offers connecting flights to the ferries to Vancouver.


The history of railway construction is intimately bound up with the emergence of Canada as British Columbia had asked a railway line to the east coast as one of the preconditions for joining the Canadian Confederation in 1871. The endpoint in the West was unclear, but it should connect via a bridge over the Seymour Narrows Vancouver Iceland to the emerging railway network. A bridge has been built to date for either road or rail. The Prime Minister of the province of Amor De Cosmos continued through June 7, 1873 that the route plan was adopted by the government in Ottawa. The westernmost breakpoint should be Esquimalt.

But the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway was delayed so that Prime Minister George Anthony Walkem 1874 threatened with the withdrawal from the Confederacy and sent a petition to the Queen. On the intervention of the Colonial Secretary, Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon ( 1831-1890 ), was nevertheless agreed to build a railway line from Esquimalt to Nanaimo. But the Canadian Senate refused to do so, whereupon British Columbia was again threatened with secession. Despite mediation of the Lieutenant Governor is no agreement was reached. Instead, they preferred a terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway on the mainland.

In addition to the leaders, who wanted to promote the construction project, was Robert Dunsmuir, the richest man in the province, the driving force. He was member of the government and interested to join its coal mines with the provincial capital. His business interests engaged but more the train and ferry to the south, so to Washington and Oregon, and California in the center. Here he was able to sell the lion's share of its coal. With letters of the first Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Joseph William Trutch, and Neubraunschweiger politician and " Father of Confederation" John Hamilton Gray, he traveled to Ottawa. Meanwhile competed the Vancouver-based but controlled by Lewis M. Clement from San Francisco Vancouver Land and Railway Company for the construction, the cost of Dunsmuir was estimated at 1.5 million dollars. But it did not, the U.S. managed to secure the necessary funding.

So government officials signed a contract in 1883 to build with Dunsmuir, a rail link from Esquimalt to Nanaimo. These Dunsmuir received the same land grants of approximately 800,000 acres that had already assured the Americans ( 3,200 km ²). There were also $ 750,000. While this mixing of a political mandate and economic interests came across reservations, but together with Charles Crocker, Collis P. Huntington, and Leland Stanford of California founded Dunsmuir, the president was himself, the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway. At the same time he owned half of the shares.

In the promised territory, however, many farmers resisted the expropriation, so that the company should receive as compensation another country, especially between Crown Mountain and Seymour Narrows. Thus, the province came through cash grants and almost 20 % of the area of the island to a contract in which at the end was a private railway company.

On August 13, 1886 Prime Minister Macdonald drove with a silver hammer the last ( golden ) nail through the last threshold at Cliffside, 40 km north of Victoria. The railway line was built in 1887 to Wellington, where one of Dunsmuirs was coal mines, expanded, and reached Victoria, 1888. 1911 a route to Port Alberni, built in 1912 to Lake Cowichan, 1914 to Courtenay. The First World War prevented further construction to Campbell River.

With the withdrawal of the Dunsmuir family from the railway system, the CPR took over the route in 1905 by Robert Dunsmuirs son James. VIA Rail led the main train after 1978, when the CPR was trying to get rid of its unprofitable routes. 1996 sold the CPR freight services at the ferry, but the freight trains ran until 1999. Took over this year RailAmerica the route between Nanaimo and Port Alberni, but the track leased to RailAmerica - subcontractor E and N Railway Company.

With the expansion of the road network, especially of Highway 1 from Victoria to Nanaimo, the line was finally unprofitable, especially since even the pulp mills now preferred the road. The attempt to be necessary to have a tourist train in the years 2000 and 2001 (Pacific Wilderness Railway ) was not successful.

RailAmerica and the CPR were willing to give up their rights. A foundation, which is a partnership between the First Nations along the railway line ( such as the Hupacasath, Chemainus, Comox and Cowichan ) and the towns, was founded. She took over in February 2006, the 234 km long distances to the route to Port Alberni. Since 1 July 2006, reversed the Southern Railway of British Columbia. There are also lands, such as at the edge of the main town of Victoria ( Roundhouse Heritage site ) or at Bamberton.