WIKIPEDIA PHOTO                                The Englewood Train crossing the Kokish River.

WIKIPEDIA PHOTO The Englewood Train crossing the Kokish River.

Vancouver Island loses its last logging train

Western Forest Products closes Englewood Train operation and will make the switch to transport via roads.

Vancouver Island’s last rail logging operation has ceased, less than a year after a fatal train derailment tragically killed three workers.

Western Forest Products announced the closure of its Englewood logging train, which is headquartered in Woss, a small village on Northern Vancouver Island, located about 75km southeast of Port McNeill.

“Its the end of an area not only for our community logging on the whole coast,” said Dave Rushton a retired logger who represents the village on the Regional District of Mount Waddington’s board of directors.

Western said via a Nov. 7 press release that the “logs will be transported by truck at a lower cost to create efficiencies in the transportation of logs to its mills from northern Vancouver Island forestry operations.”

The railway was first constructed in 1917 and was the only remaining log transport railway systems on British Columbia’s coast.

RELATED: Third person dies from injuries sustained in logging train incident near Woss

Changing Times

At peak operations, the train employed 34 workers with the line running 90 km from Vernon Lake, through Woss, and past Nimpkish Lake Provincial Park to Beaver Cove.

In their press release, Western stated, “as a result of the closure of the train, these positions will be eliminated,” but the company will identify “opportunities for the impacted employees to transition to other positions within its operations” anticipating the reduction in jobs to be less than 15.

“It’s a devastating blow but it wasn’t unexpected,” said Rushton, adding “It kind of feels like a prizefighter who has been knocked down, we get up and it’s like another sucker punch after the incident in April.”

In April 2017, the Englewood logging train derailed near the centre of Woss, killing three workers and injuring two more.

RELATED: WorkSafeBC and TSB investigate fatal Woss derailment

Western then halted operations on the train line, out of respect for the workers and their families, according to a joint statement from Western and their union the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937.

Rushton said although the closure of the train “was expected with the rumours going on”, it will impact the entire village, which has a population fewer than 200.

“We are a small very tight night community – we celebrate everyone’s fortune and we mourn their bad fortune, so it affects everybody,” he said, adding that some of the workers are second or third generation residents. “They have kids and grandkids here and if they have to relocate it’s tough.”

Company offering to retain employees

Western said it is committed to working with its employees in a fair and equitable manner.

“The company is focussing today on working with our impacted employees and discussing options with them to look at other positions, retraining opportunities and other options that may be available,” said Western’s Communications and Government Relations Director, Amy Spencer via email.

Rushton noted a transition would be hard for some workers as “the guys that work on that road are in their late 50s and it’s tough to retrain and go back to school” but he hopes that “they’ll be something encouraging for them all.”

The closure of the logging train operation, also has implications for road conditions on Highway 19, with Rushton stating he’s not sure if Western will use the highway exclusively but, ““It will definitely be an adjustment for everyone that uses the highway there is no doubt about that.”

He noted that there are a lot of questions still left to be answered, but “we are a resilient group I am sure that we will recover.”

Western employs over 3,500 employees and contractors on the coast, of which 600 are directly employed on northern Vancouver Island.

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press Media file
Port Hardy RCMP on the hunt for porta-pottie arsonist

The porta-potties were lit on fire early in the morning on June 13

Eke Me-Xi students enjoy a field trip to Malcolm Island. (Submitted photos)
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre takes field trip to Malcolm Island

Once at Bere Point, students made themselves at home in the day-use area

Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair logo
Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair cancelled again due to COVID-19 restrictions

The 2022 fall fair is still scheduled to take place in Port Hardy

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read