Lack of A Regional Rail Strategy Is An Abandonment of Political Fiduciary Duty

How many deaths mus happen before the province decides to have a regional rail strategy?

How many deaths must happen before the province decides to have a regional rail strategy?

The message was tragically brought home to roost Christmas Eve with the fatal bus crash on highway 97C, the Okanagon Connector, where a intercity bus crash claimed four lives, that the province desperately needs a regional transportation strategy.

The provincial government, despite promises to the contrary, have not acted and in fact, seem to be retreating from any provincial transportation strategy.

With foul weather shifting to once every 100 of 50 year events, with global warming and climate change, are now becoming almost annual events yet all level of governments seem to be ossified in planning, where inaction and myopia seems to be the only plan.

Last weeks transportation chaos which saw Vancouver International airport reduced to a shambles; public transit collapsed; two major bridges (Alex Fraser and Port Mann) closed due to falling ice and finally a tragic bus accident on the eve of Christmas are the shape of things to come.

BC and Canada’s love affair with “rubber on asphalt” transportation solutions must end and investment instead go to a national regional rail strategy. The anti-rail bias is striking and rail investment is based on an electability standard of what project’s photo-ops and 10 second sound bites on the evening news which will provide the more votes!

The province is spending $11 billion, extending the Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain light metro system a mere 21.7 km; a system that has proven over and over again that it does not operate well or at all in snow. By comparison, the Rail for the Valley/Leewood Study regional rail plan would cost $1.5 billion.

As well, the SkyTrain light metro system has no track record of modal shift and in fact is seen today by many international transportation planners and engineers as an operating museum piece on par with the Wuppertal Schwebebahn.

The province needs a viable regional rail transportation strategy and it needs it now.

The current provincial and federal governments do not have any such strategy and political fake tears and condolences on the evening news to highway related carnage is getting more then tiresome, as the very same politicians do nothing to solve the issue.


Bc desperately needs a regional rail stragegy, but doing nothing seems to be the present course of action.

BC desperately needs a regional rail strategy, but doing nothing seems to be the present course of action.

As mentioned many times before the province is spending $11 billion to extend the SkyTrain light-metro a mere 21.7 km in voter rich metro Vancouver, yet the E&N rots into oblivion; the RftV project is shunned and the Okanagan rail corridor has been ripped up.

Shame on the current provincial government; shame on the federal government, the blood of four dead bus passengers are on your hands.

In the era of Global Warming and climate change, not having a regional passenger rail strategy is more than an embarrassment, it is a a failure of political fiduciary duty.


6 Responses to “Lack of A Regional Rail Strategy Is An Abandonment of Political Fiduciary Duty”
  1. Paul McGown says:

    Baby steps may be the answer to prove viability of trams. Running a tram from New Westminster to Cambie Station via the extremely under-utilized line along the north arm of the Fraser could generate traffic on public transit. The “River District” would be well served to connect to the rest of the Translink grid.

    Zwei replies: That line is just begging for a tram.

  2. John Smith says:

    Paul McGown very sensible. The city of Vancouver made a mistake in ripping up the rail lines further west and going up Arbutus. Also, would be nice to see the trams continue east to downtown PoCo, but that is a very heavily used section of railway, so I can’t see that happening.

    Zwei replies: Just a quick note; the rail on Arbutus would have to be replaced if a modern tram were to operate. What is important is the right-of-way.

  3. Vincent Ng says:

    River District would also benefit from “River Bus” ferry running this route:
    River Green (Richmond) – River Rock (Richmond) – River District (Vancouver) – River Bend (Burnaby) – River Market (New Westminster) -

  4. Haveacow says:

    The main issue is that most regional railway lines are owned by a for profit railway company, that includes CN Rail who have long operated like a private company and the federal government is no longer the main shareholder (5th largest actually). Regional/local governments and their transit agencies are not that comfortable or competent negotiating with railway companies for track space. It was a decades long process for GO Transit in the Toronto area for them to be good partners for the railways.

    Even when you own the track, these same local/regional governments and their associated transit agencies still get nervous because no one wants the financial or legal risk anymore of owning and operating these assets. This is why P3 (public private partnerships) agreements are so in vogue worldwide with local governments. No one wants to be responsible and they are willing to pay a fortune to someone else to legally and financially take those cares and worries away without giving up ownership, in this case, publicly owned railway lines. Usually to some large company or consortium of companies, whom gladly operate and are legally responsible for the assets, for a price.

  5. zweisystem says:

    This is what government is for, enacting legislation to permit and even force regional passenger railways to operate.

    We are in a climate emergency and if one wants cars off the road, one must provide an alternative and rail is that alternative.

    We cannot tax ourselves out of global warming, yet most politicians think they can.

  6. TheMission says:

    Maybe time to bring back the Olympic line to the southside of false creek. Remember 2010, Vancouver borrowed a couple Bombardier trams from Belgium. Then extend it to downtown and up arbutus to Marine drive and then east to New Westminister on existing railway.

    Translink could extend the westcoast express to Abbottsford and Chiliwack and make it an all day service.

    BC should bring back BC rail that starts at the Via rail/ Amtrak station on Main. Go east to Burnaby on existing track, turn north through the rail tunnel and over the rail bridge to North Van. Then continue north to Prince George. All they need to do is buy new trains and build some stations. VIA rail could operate the route and lease the line from CN Rail. CN owns the line they bought in a longterm lease in 2002.

    VIA rail and Federal government should make a plan with the BC government to rebuild the E&N railway. Split the cost between Federal and Province.

    Zwei replies: would make a good start.

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