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Who wants to ride the train?

A group pushing for passenger rail traffic between Nelson and Procter is trying to get a handle on how many people might use the service.
A survey will ask south shore residents will be asked how likely they would be to use a passenger train between Procter and Nelson if the service was restored.

A group pushing for restored passenger rail traffic between Nelson and Procter is doing a survey to get a handle on how many people might actually use the service.

Kevin Shepherd of the recently renamed Kootenay Rail Service Society says the latest questionnaire builds on another distributed more than a year ago, which covered about a quarter of the community.

This time they are looking to hit every household in Harrop, Procter, Sunshine Bay, and Bealby Point.

“We’re trying to get a feel from the community whether we should go ahead,” he says. “The main question we’re asking people is are they really going to use it?”

The current proposal is to run a daily service on the existing CP Rail tracks from 5:30 a.m. to midnight, with nine trips per day. A round trip would take 90 minutes and cost about $6.

Shepherd says it would result in improved public transit and a reduced carbon footprint.

“I think it’s an idea whose time has come. At least our community will let us know,” he says.

His group has begun going door-to-door to more than 400 households to deliver the survey, which asks residents to estimate how often they would ride the train, what their current transportation costs are, and whether they would be willing to join the co-op that would provide the service.

Shepherd says feedback from the previous poll was overwhelmingly positive.

He is also interested in getting feedback from Nelson residents who live on the waterfront near the railway tracks, including seniors in Lake View Village.

The society has received $2,500 from the regional district towards a feasibility study, and Shepherd says the survey and business plan are key steps toward completing it.

“Once we’ve done that, we’ll present it to various levels of government and CP. There’s no point talking to CP until we have all our ducks in a row.”

Although the rail carrier has not shown much interest in the idea to date, Shepherd says they’re “going to give them a proposal they can’t say no to.”

Blank survey forms, including a sample schedule, can also be picked up and returned to the Procter store.

The society hopes to have the completed forms back by mid-November, the results tabulated by the end of the year, and the business plan ready in the spring.

However, in a previous interview Shepherd said even if they are successful, it will take several years to implement.

Passenger trains served Procter for decades before CP Rail discontinued the service.