The Whiterock King George Whalley LRT – Revisited & Updated

First published in 2011, the concept of the Whalley King George Whiterock Line, operating in conjunction with the Rail for the Valley’s Leewood Study TramTrain would bring an affordable and successful 21st century public transportation solutions to Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

It has has been seven years year since I entertained the idea of the Whalley – King George – White Rock LRT Line and in 2018 the plan is extremely sound.

Surrey needs a bold new vision for modern LRT and I believe the Whalley – King George – White Rock or WKW Line would provide the vision to implement a strategic and affordable light rail network for Surrey and communities south of the Fraser river. Failure to plan and build sustainable light rail and to continue to plan and build with the hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro, will beggar the region with ever escalating taxes, driving out business and residents out of the region.

The goal of the new light rail line is to serve customer needs and offer the ability to provide an attractive alternative to the car, it also must serve a multitude of destinations. Building LRT as an extension of the SkyTrain light-metro system will fail to meet expectations, as LRT will not be designed to its best advantage. It is not rocket science to design a transit line to be an attractive alternative to the car.

The Light Rail Line

The 24 kilometer  WKW Line would provide a solid foundation for an attractive light rail system in Surrey. The proposed light rail would be a classic LRT, operating mainly on a reserved rights-of-way (RoW), located in the median of the roads involved.

The route of the WKW Line would start at at 108th Ave. & the King George Hwy. and would continue South to the Southern RR of BC (formerly the BC Hydro R.R.) This portion of the route would service the Central City shopping district; Surrey Memorial Hospital; Queen Elizabeth Secondary School; Bear Creek Park; and the Newton shopping district.

The WKW Line would then network south-east along 4 km of the former BCE interurban line and proposed Valley Rail Vancouver to Chilliwack TramTrain route to 152nd. Traveling mainly through industrial lands, which would provide the ideal location for the Light Rail storage and maintenance yards. This portion of track would be double tracked and adequately signaled for safe freight/Interurban/tram operation.

Operating a joint operation with the RftV/Leewood interurban, would enable South Surrey and White Rock transit customers the option of a direct or no-transfer service to downtown Vancouver.

From 152nd Street, the WKW Line would go straight south to White Rock crossing the Nicomakle /Serpentine River valley basin. Along here, the line must be raised above flood plain and three new bridges across the Super Port Railway Line, and the Serpentine and Nicomakle rivers must be built. It is this portion of line that will be the most expensive.

Rising out of the small river valley the route would continue south along 152nd Ave., terminating in downtown White Rock

In the summer, the light rail line would bring congestion relief to White Rock by providing a quality transit alternative for the many thousands of people who come in cars to the popular beaches. Also close to the WKW Line is the South Surrey Athletic fields, which many fields and arenas are constantly busy with hockey, baseball, soccer, rugby, and football games, twelve months of the year. The line would also provide an excellent transportation access for the burgeoning housing estates, such as Morgana’s Crossing in South Surrey and White Rock.

An approximate map of the WKW route as Google maps do not use existing rail lines.

The Cost

The the total cost of the KWK Line, including bridges and/or viaducts should cost no more than $1.5 (2018 dollars) billion, based on comparative LRT lines now being built The high cost of major engineering in the Nicomakle/Serpentine valley, would be mitigated by simple on-street construction on 152nd and the King George Highway and track sharing for 4 km on the Southern Railway of BC Line bisecting Surrey .

It is interesting to note that the total cost for the 130 km RftV/Leewood Chilliwack to Vancouver Interurban using Diesel LRT and the 23 km WKW Line would be about $2.5 billion (2018 dollars) or put another way we could build 153 km of modern LRT lines in the Fraser Valley for about $1 billion less than the 5.5 km Broadway subway and attract many more customers as well.

Diesel TramTrain in Kassel Germany - Could be in Surrey as well.

Unlike present light rail planning, where development is encouraged to take place along a LRT/SkyTrain route, the KWK Line can pass through sensitive agriculture and ecological areas, without the need for land development. Building the line would provide a potential capacity of 20,000 persons per hour per direction on the route, well able to handle future passenger demands, yet still can be built much cheaper than its SkyTrain/light-metro competitors. The cost for a SkyTrain along the same route? About $3.5 billion!

A modern LRT Line in Madrid, Spain.  A template for the WKW Line?

Using low-floor trams, with convenient stops, ensures an obstacle free journey for all transit customers including the mobility impaired, without the need of expensive stations and equally expensive to maintain elevators and escalators.

The WKW Line can provide traffic calming where needed, yet still supply ample capacity for future transit needs. By providing a regular and efficient transit service from White Rock to Surrey Central and by servicing many destinations along its route the proposed LRT line would attract ample ridership, including the all important motorist from the car. The line would also easily integrate with the RftV TramTrain interurban service from Vancouver to Chilliwack and could provide in the not too distant future a direct White Rock to Vancouver TramTrain service, faster than the present bus and Canada line service.

The WKW Line, combined with the Leewood Study Chilliwack to Vancouver TramTrain, would bring proven 21st century transit solutions to Surrey, transit solutions that are too long overdo.

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