Tiny locomotive brings long dormant Victoria area railway to life – BC News

It’s short and stocky, but it’s nimble and packs a lot of power.

A small locomotive is set to breathe new life into the once bustling terminus of the Esquimalt Nanaimo Railway in Victoria’s Vic West neighborhood.

Focus Equities, the developer behind Bayview Place and the future development around the historic E&N Roundhouse, took delivery on Wednesday of a small switch locomotive – a 25-tonne, 450-hp engine that will be used to move cars and locomotives around of the site as it develops.

Jim Sturgill Jr., president of Pacific Northwest Railway Services and a consultant at the Bayview site, said the small engine will be used to move cars in and out of the roundhouse, where the boxcars will be used as stores and displays.

About a half mile of trail remains on the 20-acre Bayview site in the Songhees, adjacent to the 200 block of Esquimalt Road, as well as the roundhouse, which was completed in 1913 and remains virtually intact. It was named a National Historic Site in 1992.

The E&N Roundhouse is on the site of the original 1886 railway terminus for Victoria. It was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to serve as the main maintenance facility for steam – and later diesel – locomotives and E&N rolling stock until 2011, when passenger service was been interrupted.

Sturgill said Bayview developer Ken Mariash already had a 1948 baggage and mail van on the site, as well as two 1950s heritage wagons.

The site also contains two other historic red brick buildings – a car shop and a stores building, all in their original condition.

The shunting locomotive was built by General Electric in 1956 and originally purchased by the Alberta Sugar Corp., which used it to move cars and locomotives in and out of industrial plants. It was last used at Fort McMurray.

“When these types of locomotives become available, you should get them while you get the chance,” Sturgill said Wednesday. “There aren’t too many available there.” No purchase price was disclosed.

Sturgill said small shunting locomotives were used in many places on the island during the rail days, and this locomotive will be the first to operate at the E&N Roundhouse in two decades.

Sturgill said Bayview plans to eventually move a 120-ton diesel locomotive from Nanaimo to the Vic West site, although the timing depends on the rail line, which is currently not in service.

Residential towers are being considered for the Roundhouse at Bayview Place project, according to a master plan from Focus Equities, updated last April. The Rotunda will be the center and focal point, with new buildings surrounding Turntable Plaza and the site split into six “character neighborhoods”.

The developer’s guidelines state that the historic buildings will be the “character-defining elements of Victoria’s next great neighborhood”, where a mix of commercial and residential uses, including rental and affordable housing, are connected to open spaces and accessible amenities. to the public.

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