Funding – How to restore Passenger Rail

The UK, as well as many European countries, are reopening long abandoned rail routes for passenger service.

The lesson is simple, if you want to attract the motorist from the car, you must develop a user friendly alternative. The railway is a proven user friendly alternative to the car.

In BC, politicians have not learned this lesson and continue to squander large sums of money on politically prestigious transit projects, like the Broadway subway.

The Valley rail project and the E&N railway are two rail routes, begging to have a modern rail alternative to the car. Our politicians remain blind and deaf about quality rail, while singing hosannas for a $3 billion subway that will not take a car off the road. That $3 billion for 5.8 km of subway could fund a quality rail system both for the Fraser Valley and Vancouver island.

Maybe Premier Horgan best refrain from making nasty comments about certain groups in BC for his politcal party’s shortcomings and instead focus his efforts on providing a proven affordable quality and user friendly transportation for the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

The $3 billion that will be spent on the 5.8 km Broadway subway, could fund a over 350 km of a regional rail service for the Fraser Valley and Vancouver island. Something to think about.

Ottawa's O-Train, an affordable light DMU service that has proven very successful.

‘Devolving funds could pay for Aberystwyth to Carmarthen line’

by Chris Betteley – Reporter



Cash available for railway projects in Wales would have been “significantly higher if it had been devolved,” according to a new report, and could have paid the majority of money towards reopening the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen line.

The report from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre finds that under a fully devolved system, Wales could have received an extra £514m investment in its rail infrastructure between 2011-12 and 2019-20 compared to what it received, with several projects called for in Ceredigion, including the return of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway, closed in the 1960s under the Beeching cuts.

A 2018 feasibility study into the reopening of the line found that it was “a realistic prospect”, but cost estimates reached £620m – with no form of funding identified to move the project forward.

Campaigners have called for the return of the railway for more than a decade.

The scheme was included in the Welsh Government’s rail strategy document ‘A Railway for Wales – Meeting the needs of future generations’, in which it said that it wants to ‘improve connectivity on the nation’s key corridors – especially the western corridor from Ynys Môn to Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Swansea Bay’.

The new report estimates that the Welsh Government is set to lose out on another £505m over the next five years – cash that could have been used for such major projects.

The report finds: “These amounts can be compared to the cost of several major Welsh rail infrastructure projects that have been estimated by external sources, including the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line (£620-775m), electrification of the North Wales Coast mainline (£764m), and electrification of the South Wales mainline between Cardiff and Swansea (£433m).”

Although operations of the railway in Wales are a Welsh Government responsibility through its rail operator Transport for Wales, railway infrastructure remains the responsibility of the UK Government.

The Welsh Government can spend its own resources to fund railway schemes, but because infrastructure is not devolved to Wales, it is not provided with extra resources to do this through the Barnett Formula.

Wales Fiscal Analysis researcher Guto Ifan said: “When it comes to the Welsh railways, the evidence is clear that funding would have been substantially higher under a fully devolved system – to the tune of £500m since 2011.

“That funding over the course of eight years would have enabled significant improvement projects to take place.

“Wales is also set to lose out on transport funding when the Treasury next sets multi-year budgets, due to technical changes in Barnett formula calculations.

“This is a double whammy for Wales, with the historic under-funding being baked in to the system.

“It is now clear that only full devolution of rail infrastructure – similar to Scotland – will address the underfunding of Welsh railways.”

The full report from the Wales Governance Centre has been submitted as evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee’s ongoing inquiry into rail infrastructure in Wales.


3 Responses to “Funding – How to restore Passenger Rail”
  1. Major Hoople says:

    Here in Germany, the government is considering reopening 4,000 km of abandoned railway.

    From the Gazette:

    Rail comeback’ could reopen 4 000 km of closed lines

    9 July 2020

    GERMANY: More than 200 closed, mothballed or freight-only lines could be reopened to serve 291 towns and a population of around 3 million people, according to proposals drawn up by the Association of German Transport Companies VDV and rail lobby group Allianz pro Schiene.

    It far cheaper than building new autobahnen and with zweisystems in mind, could radically change public transport here.

  2. Nathan Davidowicz says:

    The UK and many European countries are more progressive on Transportation than BC and Canada.You know that the Broadway subway is being constructed so it is too late to stop. However the Fraser Hwy Sky Train Line is not approved or completely funded. So talk about the possibility of all 3 levels of government funding some or all of this line , it will cost anywhere between 2 to 3.5 B if it is approved in 2021/2 more if approved later..

    Zwei replies: The Expo Line extension to Fleetwood is funded.

  3. Basingstoke says:

    What about the three abandoned rail lines in Vancouver? South Vancouver, False Creek, and Arbutus?

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