Diesel light-rail is a light-rail vehicle which is powered by a diesel engine, rather than electricity, conforming to the operational parameters of modern LRT. This means Diesel LRT can be installed very cheaply on routes that would otherwise not be considered for ‘rail’ transit, as it forgoes the expense of the ‘overhead’ for electric transmission, giving large cost savings on longer routes. Being light-rail, Diesel LRT can also operate on tram tracks in city centres, on ‘reserved rights-of-ways, and track share on mainline railways. The following is a U-Tube feature, showing the New Jersey Diesel LRT line.
Being powered by a diesel engine, the light-rail vehicle can operate on existing railway tracks, track-sharing with regular freight and passenger trains, with safe operation ensured by modern signaling methods. There are five routes in the metro Vancouver region that could be considered for Diesel LRT operation.
- The Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban.
- Vancouver to Whiterock.
- Coquitlam/Port Moody to Vancouver via New Westminster, Marpole and the Arbutus Corridor.
- New Westminster to Queensborough and Annacis Island.
- New Westminster to Richmond.
Five Diesel LRT routes, using existing railway infrastructure and a new Fraser River Rail bridge with a 3-track lift span, could be had for the cost of one new SkyTrain line. What is needed is the political will to provide affordable LRT solutions and Federal legislation to compel mainline railway operators to accept Diesel LRT operation on lightly used rail lines in urban areas. With ‘peak oil’ and a severe economic downturn, precious transit money should not be spent on prestigious ‘metro’ projects that will achieve very little, but on ‘workhorse’ solutions, bringing LRT to as many people as possible at the cheapest cost.
It is time that our provincial and federal politicians and regional transportation authorities end their fixation with hugely expensive light-metros like SkyTrain and RAV/Canada Line and start planning for affordable LRT projects, including diesel LRT, that would provide the all important seamless journey from residence to destination that has proven time after time, to attract the all important motorist from the car.