Rail for the Valley In The news


From the Chilliwack Times.

Dream of light rail from Chilliwack to Surrey isn’t dead

The idea of creating light rail on the old interurban line from Chilliwack to Surrey may have faded in recent years, but proponents still want to see it happen and Coun. Sam Waddington says it

The idea of creating light rail on the old interurban line from Chilliwack to Surrey may have faded in recent years, but proponents still want to see it happen and Coun. Sam Waddington says it’s inevitable.

ai??i??Ai??image credit: File


Friends of Rail for the Valley have stayed the course, still on track after seven years.

Last week, the group had its most recent meeting at the Sardis Library to exchange views on what was once a fairly contentious issue. The society, started in 2009 as part of the larger movement to repurpose existing inter-urban lines in the Fraser Valley for passenger rail, has fallen into routine as the issue lost visibility.

While their attendance has dipped from several hundred to a handful, their cause isnai??i??t a lost one. In attendance at the March 24 meeting was city councillor Sam Waddington, who said that, in 2016, a light-rail solution has renewed viability.

Part of this is due to the success of the Fraser Valley Express (FVX), which celebrates its first birthday on April 6. BC Transit reports the FVX, which makes stops in Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley, drew four times its expected ridership in its first year.

ai???The FVX is going to be a model for anything in the future,ai??? Waddington told a roomful of long-time Rail for the Valley supporters. ai???I have no doubt thereai??i??s going to be light-rail, the question is, is it going to be 60 years from now?ai???

According to Waddington, BC Transit is looking for success and ridership from bus routes servicing the same locales as a proposed inter-urban line before it is willing to consider investing in anything beyond buses, and the threshold of riders per day necessary to bring the province to the table hasnai??i??t been reached yet.

ai???This year has been the biggest push towards this since the rail line closed, because weai??i??ve shown a bus doing basically the same thing has been successful,ai??? Waddington said.

ai???To give you an idea of the political climate, when Fraser Valley Express was launched there was a lot of talk, why donai??i??t we just do light rail? It was a risk mitigation decision, [in case] the buses didnai??i??t work out.ai???

The idea that buses may be the way towards getting the province on board with passenger rail is a bit of a twist of fate for the Rail for the Valley camp who, at the height of their popularity, had their idea essentially vetoed in 2011 by the Fraser Valley Transit Study (FVTS), a much called for analysis of transit options from the Ministry of Transportation that framed additional bus service as the only option they were willing to support.

Rail for the Valleyai??i??s proposal hasnai??i??t changed substantially. Their suggestion is that the already existing inter-urban line between Chilliwack and Surrey, to which the province owns the right of way, could be upgraded to accommodate passenger rail.

Graham Dalton, one of the founding members of Rail for the Valley, was enthusiastic about Waddingtonai??i??s input.

ai???It was a tremendous insight to see him. Everything he said was wonderful, it was like, wow, we have a chance here.ai???

Itai??i??s Dalton who has continued to organize meetings through all five years since the FVTS was released.

ai???It was about statistics. My statistics say Iai??i??m right, your statistics say youai??i??re right, and thatai??i??s what happened. There were two sets of studies, and one study said it definitely isnai??i??t feasible, the ridership isnai??i??t there, and the other said, look, itai??i??s a gem itai??i??s going to work forever,ai??? says Dalton, referring to the FVTS and to the Leewood study, an independent paper from a British consultant.

While Dalton drew small crowds with flier campaigns on his own, the idea really took off when John Buker, a professor at University of the Fraser Valley, took up the cause. With expertise on specifics like construction costs and with initiatives like a Rail for the Valley blog, launched in 2008, Buker got people engaged.

During the peak of Rail for the Valleyai??i??s popularity, in 2009, banners and demonstrators lined every overpass on Highway 1 between Chilliwack and Abbotsford, where weather conditions and traffic accidents often cause long delays for commuters.

Compared to Buker, Dalton describes his vision for the valley in less than scientific terms.

ai???The rail has to be in communities, where you can walk to it or ride a bike to it or take a bus to it,ai??? he said. ai???If you look at the line thatai??i??s existing there today, all thatai??i??s there. Itai??i??s not a straight line, but it goes to every place in the valley except Aldergrove, itai??i??s the only one it doesnai??i??t go to.

ai???What weai??i??re going through is a revival now, now we have more objectives we can look at. There is hope, thereai??i??s always hope, otherwise I would have given up long ago.ai???

ai??? For more on Rail for the Valley visit either www.railforthevalley.com or www.bctransit.com.


3 Responses to “Rail for the Valley In The news”
  1. jim says:

    Yet the provinces plan is to widen hwy 1 to 6 lanes to Whatcom Road with regular lanes (not bus/hov)… A city councillor is interested, but how to get the province on board?

  2. eric chris says:

    Great news. There is the good argument to be made with the federal government for the interurban as the alternative to the grossly over priced six kilometre subway in Vancouver and LRT lines in Surrey. Businesses and families are fleeing unaffordable Vancouver to relocate south of the Fraser River. Time to build the interurban is now for the commuters who will be living in Chilliwack and working in Surrey and Delta.

    Each freeway lane with two seconds of separation between vehicles is 1,800 vehicles per hour or about 2,500 people per hour on average (~1.4 people per vehicle). Each tram line can move 20,000 people per hour, easily. As much as I like the idea of whizzing about in my flying car some day, the interurban line is logical and necessary for the 35% of the people who don’t drive or fly.


  3. Haveacow says:

    Hey Eric did you know the new North American average for your figure is now 1.05 people per car. Toronto is one of the better ones at 1.15 people per car, New York City about 1.2 .

    I share your dream of personal flying vehicles however, flying cars will never happen unless massive amounts of computer control is possible, tracking and controlling thousands if not hundreds of thousands of flying vehicles inside a city and all of their relative velocities towards each other. The velocity you need to remain airborne plus the relative velocity of the other cars means you need very large separation distances, at the least, hundreds of metres if human control is used. I had to take some basic pilot training in the military because I was a RCN anti submarine AESOP on a RCAF CP140 Aurora (Canadian nomenclature for P3 Orion). The point is that, if your flying cars can be slowed down to 100 Knots and still remain in the air and that’s a big if, each driver would need extensive pilot training, so they don’t kill everyone who is near them. Far more training than what is normally needed for just driving a car. The thought of my neighbor, a old kindly gentleman in his mid 70’s, who is just about the worst driver I have ever seen getting behind the controls of a flying car instead of his Chrysler, chills me to the bone. The flying carnage would be devastating.

Leave A Comment