Report supports light rail

Report supports light rail

‘An honest accounting’ of the potential transit system

By Christina Toth, The Times September 21, 2010

Light rail proponents are optimistic about having passenger service return to the Fraser Valley after the release of a feasibility study on Monday.

“We’re tremendously excited. This is the most comprehensive light rail study ever undertaken in this province, performed by an outfit with expertise in light rail solutions,” said John Buker, a founder of Rail For the Valley founder and a study co-ordinator.

“This is an independent analysis by a respected company based in Great Britain that has a very solid track record in rail planning, including work on, among other things the Channel Tunnel. This report will, at long last, provide us with an honest accounting of the potential for passenger rail service on the Interurban corridor. This is something that has been sorely lacking in all provincial government-commissioned studies to date.”

The report looked at the issues on re-establishing a passenger services on the former Interurban track, which runs from Chilliwack to Surrey, and which is currently used by Southern Railway for freight.

The capital costs for a diesel/hybrid train on a run from Chilliwack to the Scott Road Skytrain station would be $500 million ($5 million per kilometre) or $606 million for an electric option ($6.2 per km).

The report proposes three trains per hour on the route during commuter peak times through the work week, twice an hour during non-peak times and weekends. Riders could use a microchip smart card that could be prepaid and reloaded for any combination of ride tickets.

The report also looked at options to downtown Vancouver (a $1 billion price tag) and to Richmond.

Travel times are estimated to be 90 minutes from Chilliwack to the Scott Road Skytrain Station, or two hours in total if a commuter continued to downtown Vancouver. The trip from Knight Road in Sardis to Abbotsford would take under 30 minutes, and a trip from Chilliwack to Yarrow, just 13.5 minutes

The author, Leewood Projects of England, analyzed the potential for light rail service on the existing and publicly owned Interurban rail corridor, and its potential to connect communities south of the Fraser from Chilliwack to Vancouver with an affordable, sustainable public transportation system. The Interurban serviced the valley daily until the late 1950s.

Buker said his group had been waiting for a $400,000 provincial study on light rail, but its scope didn’t include Vancouver, Surrey and Langley. Rail For The Valley concluded that it was doubtful the provincial report, when it is finally released, will shed much light on the true potential for a light rail service.

To view the report online, connect to: leewoodprojects.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/chilliwack-to-surrey-interurban-final-reportr.pdf

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