A Qualicum Beach man has sold his dream to start a short-haul tourism train after owners of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway track and land failed to back his plan.
Philip Makow acquired a rebuilt, 1955 diesel-electric locomotive from CN. It was stored in Parksville until earlier this month, when a buyer had it shipped off the Island.
With it went his plans for a "tea train" between Parksville and Qualicum Beach, a Parks-ville-Coombs excursion and a Victoria-Langford day run.
Makow approached the Island Corridor Foundation in 2007 after he bought the train locomotive and a baggage car and formed Vancouver Rail Tours Ltd.
Seeing the declining condition of the track connecting Victoria to Courtenay and Port Alberni, he made a pitch to use of three short segments of track in exchange for a track maintenance agreement with the foundation.
The idea had support from Jim Sturgill, who was an ICF member at the time, but the board rejected the idea.
He never publicly revealed details of the proposal until now.
"I did not want to get anyone involved as a partner until we got an agreement with the Island Corridor Foundation. They were the stumbling block," Makow said.
Failing track conditions brought passenger rail service to a halt on the line two years ago.
ICF now has a $20-million commitment in federal, provincial and local funding to repair the track and restore bridges sufficiently to allow faster moving passenger trains to resume, but the work hinges on a passenger rail agreement with Via Rail.
Work slated to begin this spring is now on hold until at least the fall.
Makow, who came to the Island 10 years ago, after running a construction company in the Lower Mainland, invested $250,000 in his dream.
He said he got back "50 cents on the dollar."
[Stewart Burnett, Oceanside Star] / Phil Makow inspects his train before a practice run last fall.;
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