Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Port Alberni sightseeing train returns this month

A short-track summer passenger train will run along the waterfront.

All aboard! The whistle is sounding from locomotive Number 11 in Port Alberni to herald the start-up of a short-track summer passenger train along the waterfront this month.

“We are very excited to put the Alberni Pacific Railway ‘back on track’ for 2024, showcasing the beautiful Port Alberni Waterfront,” said Richard Spencer, Alberni Pacific Railway manager.

The railway “has been a unique, educational experience visitors and locals have been missing for many years, and now we are returning with a new plan to showcase the waterfront’s heritage.”

It comes as Port Alberni is upgrading its waterfront to create a lively place for locals and visitors. Plans include mixed-use developments with homes and commercial spaces as well as parkland.

The diesel locomotive and four passenger cars will offer rides on a 1.3-kilometre track along the waterfront.

The train will leave from the city’s historic train station, which is being converted into a tap house by Twin City Brewing, Spencer said. Passengers will ride toward the old Alberni Pacific division sawmill and Dry Creek.

The trip will take 20 to 25 minutes. The regular fare is $8, and it’s $6 for youth between two and 14 years old.

Passengers will see “some great views of the waterfront from the train,” Spencer said.

The 45-ton diesel locomotive was restored in the 1990s. It was once used by former B.C.-based forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel and passengers cars are ex-Canadian National Railway transfer cabooses. Passenger cars will be able to carry a total of 120 people per trip. The train will run four trips per day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until early September.

“I definitely believe that heritage is a very valuable part of the community,” Spencer said. The railway played a critical role in building Port Alberni and its forest-related industry. “To be able to bring this back is a huge milestone for us.”

Once the start-up date is firmed up, tickets will be available online or at the train station.

The venture is seen as a precursor to reinstating service between Port Alberni and the McLean Mill National Historic Site showcasing the former sawmill and logging operations.

The train carried passengers until 2018 when it closed to due to funding issues.

The City of Port Alberni is contributing $60,000 toward operating costs this year.

The city is also supporting construction, which started in May, to repair the track at Athol Street and Harbour Road to allow the train to operate this summer.

Jolleen Dick, Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said, “We definitely see the value of the train in creating tourism and economic activity here.”

The city owns the McLean Mill property and the chamber manages it. “Once we get the necessary infrastructure and upgrades we would love to see this come back to the McLean Mill and really create that holistic experience from the harbour out to the mill.”

Brian Cant, vice president of business impact and engagement for 4VI, a Nanaimo-based destination management organization, welcomes the train saying, “It just continues to show tourism potential in the Alberni Valley.”

Increasing tourism options in Port Alberni helps link the east coast of Vancouver Island with offerings on the west side, he said.

For more information, go online to

[email protected]

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: [email protected]