A Letter to South Fraser Mayor’s and Councils

 

Mayor and Council,

 

The recent poll conducted by Mario Canseco ResearchCo, showed an 88% support for the reinstatement of a passenger rail service in the Fraser Valley.

The ongoing population shift to the upper Fraser Valley needs a transportation alternative to the highway, where local roads are now seeing Vancouver style congestion.

Foreseeing this, in 2009, the Rail for the Valley engaged Leewood Projects (UK) to do an independent feasibility study of using the former BC Electric railway route, reinstating the former interurban route from Vancouver to Chilliwack.

Released in September 2010, the Leewood Study showed that not only a passenger service feasible, reinstating a passenger rail service was affordable.

The Leewood Study can be accessed on the Rail for the Valley website at

www.railforthevalley.com

In 2021, adjusting for inflation, a regional passenger rail service is still very affordable, when compared to extending the Expo Line light metro, which now has a base cost in excess of $200 million per km to build!

The Leewood Study found that a Scott Road Station to Chilliwack passenger service, adjusted for inflation for 2021 dollars, would be $594,847,133.00) or $6.07m per km).

Leewood Projects felt this would be a good starter service of two trains per hour per direction (a 30 minute service).

The more extensive and user-friendly, 138 km.Vancouver to Rosedale passenger service would cost $1,207,692,027.00) or $8.71 million per km in 2021 dollars

The service would see a maximum of three trains per hour per direction (20 minute service), with a total journey time of 90 minutes from Chilliwack to Scott Road.

Having a direct service to Vancouver would be faster than transferring to SkyTrain and the 45 minute trip to downtown Vancouver and the author of the report felt that by not going into Vancouver, would be detriment for attracting new customers.

Rail for the Valley, upon advice from Leewood Projects, would use modern light diesel multiple units (DMU’s), as there are many suppliers, providing a wide range of product. Modern low-floor DMU’s have wheelchair accessible W.C.’s and some models also offer a “Bistro Car”, serving light refreshments for longer trips.

Those who propose extending the Expo line to Langley and beyond ignore serious problems with the linear induction motor (LIM) powered vehicles, used on the Expo Line and today’s higher costs of operating LIM powered trains.

Light metro was never conceived to be regional railway, but for only inner city use, designed to be a cheaper alternative to subway construction.

Light metro is very costly to operate and in 1992, the GVRD found that just the Expo Line, just from Vancouver to New Westminster was subsidized by $157 million annually, more than the combined diesel and electric bus operations!

Being driverless, the LIM powered transit systems operate extremely poorly in snow!

For many operational issues, only seven of the LIM powered proprietary light metro systems have been built since 1980 and the product has been rebranded six times and today is called Movia Automatic Light Metro or MALM.!

The French transportation giant, Alstom, has purchased Bombardier’s rail division, including MALM and the company has a record of abandoning transportation products that are poor sellers. As MALM has a rather dismal sales record and ongoing legal issues in Korea and Malaysia, it will be of no surprise that Alstom discontinues LIM powered MALM, leaving the remaining operators scrambling for expensive and ever more scarce spare parts!

Today’s modern DMU’s have many suppliers and most parts are interchangeable, greatly lowering maintenance costs.

A Vancouver to Chilliwack DMU service using existing railways is the affordable approach of providing a user-friendly transportation alternative to the car and the modern DMU has become the favoured mode of today’s transportation planner.

The choice facing regional politicians and planners is stark. A $1.7 billion, 7 km. extension of the Expo line in Surrey, which will not attract the motorist from the car and the vague political promise to spend another $1.7 billion to extend the Expo Line to Langley, sometime post 2030 for a total of $3.4 billion plus, if completed.

Or, a $1.21 billion regional DMU service from Chilliwack, connecting Sardis, Vedder Crossing, Abbotsford, Langley, Cloverdale, central Surrey, North Delta to New Westminster, Burnaby, and Vancouver and the many destinations (post secondary institutions and business parks) within easy walking distance from the route.

A regional DMU service will be a major tourist draw, giving easy access for those visiting Vancouver to explore the Fraser Valley, without need of a car.

The recent poll indicating a massive positive response in reestablishing a passenger rail service from Chilliwack to Vancouver cannot be ignored.

The daily congestion and gridlock on the Hwy. 1 cannot be ignored.

The pollution caused by road traffic cannot be ignored.

The need for a viable and affordable transportation alternative cannot be ignored.

Rail for the Valley’s Leewood Study provides the framework for an affordable and proven 21st century transportation solution, instead of bigger and wider highways, which will attract more cars, leading to even greater future congestion and gridlock.

Using existing railways, greatly reduces the cost of rail transit and by doing so, enables a larger rail network, providing more destinations, which has proven to attract new ridership, especially the motorist from the car.

Do not be left at the station, waiting for exotic solutions that will never come, but jump on board a modern 21st century DMU, calling at all stations to Vancouver!


Rail for the Valley

Addendum

The Stadler Flirt DMU, now being used on Ottawa’s Trillium Line. The modular design allows the DMU to increase capacity affordably, by adding modules as ridership grows.

A 2020 cost 50 year cost comparison by Ontario’s Metrolinx showing the 50 year financing on a per kilometre basis. SkyTrain’s 50 year costs would be somewhat higher than elevated LRT and the proposed Valley Rail would be much less than that of a bus.

Comments

3 Responses to “A Letter to South Fraser Mayor’s and Councils”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Was this a letter directly to politicians or was this in a local newspaper/magazine letter
    as well?

    Zwei replies: I sent it (hard copy) to the city of Delta, Surrey, the two Langley’s, Abbotsford and Chilliwack (snail mail) and emailed it to South Fraser news papers. I then sent to the ministers in BC responsible for transportation and a few others.

    It also has been posted of Facebook.

    I am a realist, nothing will happen, but I wanted to have a written record with the local cities again reminding them of the Leewood study and the costs of extending Skytrain.

    The mayor of Abbotsford truly believes that SkyTrain will be extended to that city and I have been told he has been in discussion with Meggs and Horgan for a timetable.!

  2. Kevin says:

    When was this poll done you mentioned in first paragraph?

    Zwei replies: The poll was released in late May.

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