Valley Rail Gaining Steam

It’s good news so far.

The real trick is to plan for rail properly, which is hard to do in Metro Vancouver, where politicians think they are better at planning for transit than the real experts.

It is hard to think any valley mayor and council would be against a viable Vancouver to Chilliwack rail link, which a basic hourly servcie would cost around $750 million.

$750 million is less than half the cost of a SkyTrain extension to Fleetwood.

In the real world, this would be considered a no-brainer, sadly in metro Vancouver, no-brainer solutions for our traffic woes are few and far between.

A Kassel RegioTram, Alstom TramTrain in Germany.

Hydrogen train to Chilliwack? Group pitches new interurban rail line in Fraser Valley

Aaron McArthur By Reporter/Anchor  Global News
While the Surrey to Langley SkyTrain extension is still very much in the early planning process, another group is pitching a passenger train linking Surrey with stations across the Fraser Valley.
The South Fraser Community Rail Group believes rapid transit could be built south of the Fraser River utilizing the existing interurban rail line that runs from Chilliwack to the Pattullo Bridge at a fraction of the cost of SkyTrain, or even the light-rail project that was scrapped last year.

The group believes using hydrogen power would save on the expense of electrifying the entire 90-plus-kilometre network of track.

Rick Green, a former mayor of Township of Langley and spokesman for the South Fraser Community Rail Group, says the cars will be more expensive to buy but will be nearly free to run, producing nothing but water as emissions.

He believes all the pieces are in place — it is just a matter of political will to get it done.

“We can build this thing for somewhere between $12.5 million and $14 million per kilometre. We can build the whole thing including rolling stock, construction, and road closures for around $1.3 billion,” he said.

“The line will be accessible to 1.2 million people, and it goes right by 14 post-secondary institutions and connects 16 communities.”

The old interurban line was operated until the 1950s by the B.C. Electric Railway. The government-owned tracks were sold off, but a provision in the sales contract still allows for the re-introduction of passenger traffic.

Patrick Condon, a UBC urban planner who has been studying the problem of transportation south of the Fraser, says his research suggests Surrey is not only set to become the province’s largest city, but the entire population south of the Fraser could swell to three million people by 2060.

“There are only two options: build reasonably dense housing around existing infrastructure, or continue to sprawl out and eat up all the farmland. We can’t continue to build more roads to ease congestion,” Condon said.

According to the experts, those who live south of the Fraser can’t continue to rely on getting around by car, but spending billions on SkyTrain technology isn’t the right solution either.

Green agrees, calling the SkyTrain down the Fraser Highway “insanity” and adding the $1.6 billion to get the train to Fleetwood seems excessive.

“It just makes so much sense,” he said when comparing his proposal.


2 Responses to “Valley Rail Gaining Steam”
  1. Kim says:

    This is good from south of fraser. Translink is not responsible for it. BC Transit must do it with the BC government. Chilliwack is part of the fraser valley regional district that is served by BC Transit.

    Zwei replies: Personally I would not want either BC Transit or Translink to operate valley rail, these two behemoths could not run a whorehouse.

  2. Jude Hannah says:

    Having Rail to the Valley would be a game-changer for Metro Vancouver. We can do this.

    Skytrain down the Fraser Highway makes no sense whatsoever. If you’re going to extend Skytrain, make it go south along King George. The Inter Urban used to have a station right there in South Newton.They could link up. This serves the most people, for the lowest cost.

    We’ll be watching which politicians support Rail for the Valley and which will realize that Skytrain along Fraser Highway is an ill-conceived plan.

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