A Canadian Regional Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway

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The Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway (which it is still called by people living on the Island), was a regional railway in British Columbia, Canada. In 2006 it became the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island (SVI). It ran from Victoria to Courtenay, with branch lines from Parksville to Port Alberni and from Duncan to Lake Cowichan. This latter branch has been abandoned (rp). A current branch runs from just south of Nanaimo to the SVI's main railyard and car float slip (dock) on the Nanaimo waterfront. The line is now owned by the Island Corridor Foundation and operated under contract by SVI. The SVI is one of two remaining railways over 160 kilometres (99 mi) in length on Vancouver Island, the other being the Englewood Railway. Until 1996, it was called the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. It then spent three years as E & N Railfreight, an internal short line within then owner Canadian Pacific Railway. Operations were then sold to RailAmerica, who changed the name to the E&N Railway Co (1998) Ltd. RailAmerica ceased to operate the E&N on 30 June 2006, with the Washington Group's Southern Railway of British Columbia taking over operations the following day under the name Southern Railway of Vancouver Island (SVI).(wik). During the early 1930's the E&N ran two passenger trains a day between Victoria and Courtenay, with one train taking cars to Port Alberni. In the early 40's and into the early 50's there was only one passenger train per day and it was gone by 1955 (rp). For a time Via Rail raun regular daily passenger train service (the Victoria Courtenay train) with Budd-built Rail Diesel Cars but this service has been terminated . The train had scheduled stops at Duncan, Nanaimo, and Parksville, with many other flag stops (stops on request) along the way. In 2006, the Island Corridor Foundation took the railway's ownership over from the Canadian Pacific Railway and RailAmerica (wik).

History of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway (EN).
1870 - The growing Colony of Vancouver Island with the provintial capital of Victoria joins the BC colony.
1871- British Columbia joins Canadian Federation.
1871. The terms of union required that within two years, the federal government was to start the construction of a railway from the "seaboard of British Columbia" joining the new province with the railway system of Canada.
1871-1874 - Canadian Pacific RR and Federation of Canada put low priority on the rail construction.
1874 - BC threatens to leave confereration.
1874 - Extension of time proposed with plan to build line from Esquimalt to Nanaimo.
1874-1880 - No agreements accepted by all parties and BC again threatens to leave.
1881-1883 - Competing interests fight for land and cash grants to determine who will buiold ther line.
1883 - The Robert Dunsmuir interests win out and are to build line from Esquimalt to Nanaimo.
1883 - Dunsmuir and three partners (Charles Crocker, Collis P. Huntington and Leland Stanford of California) incorporated the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway with Dunsmuir president and owner of one half of the shares.
1886 - 3-1/2 years later the main from Esquimalt to Nanaimo was completed.
1886 - Wooden trestle bridge over Niagara Creek Canyon damaged in a washout in November.
1905 - Between 1905 and 1999, the E&N Railway was owned and operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
ca 1910 - A steel cantilever suspension bridge built in England in 1886 is moved from the Fraser River at Cisco BC to replace the Niagara Creek Canyon bridge.
1911 - Line from main at Parksville to Port Alberni completed.
1912 - Line from main at Duncan to Lake Cowichan completed.
1914 - Main line extended north to Courtenay.
1914 - Outbreak of WW1 stopped plans to continue line north to Campbells River.
1920-30's - During this period the EN ran two passenger trains a day between Victoria and Courtenay, with one train taking cars to Port Alberni.
1940-50's - In the early 40's and into the early 50's there was only one passenger train per day and it was gone by 1955 (rp).
1978 - Via Rail took over operation of CPR's passenger train service, called The Malahat, in 1978.


1978 - CPR demarketed its freight operation, claiming that freight traffic was declining.
1996 - CPR reorganized the E&N as an "internal short line" named E&N Railfreight while the railbarge operations were sold to Seaspan Intermodal.
early 1999 - Shortline operator RailAmerica (RA) purchased the route from Nanaimo to Port Alberni, and leased the balance of the line. This RailAmerica subsidiary was named E & N Railway Company (1998) Ltd (ENR). CPR retained the E&N marks and control over other assets.
1999-2000 - RailAmerica (ENR) traffic declines due to a number of factors including new highway construction, loss of pulp haulage to trucks, lack of government subsidies and CPR lease/buy restrictions.
2000-2001 - Tourist railroad Victoria to Malahat fails.
2006 - CPR and RA turn assets over to the non-profit Island Corridor Foundation (ICF).
2006 - In July tthe Southern Railway of British Columbia bbegan operation of the EN under contract with the ICF. Its name was changed to the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island (SVI).
2010 - In January a new train ferry terminal started operating on Annacis Island in the Fraser River connecting to Nanaimo and offering the SVI increased freight capacity via Seaspan ferries.
Current - Freight service continues, however Via Rail passenger service has been suspended indefinitely due to deferred maintenance on the line.[10][11] Commuter rail between the southern communities of Victoria and Duncan will be studied in the future.

Esquimalt and Nanaimo - Septermber 16, 1928

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- various editions

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Copyright Richard Parks, May 28, 2011