Archive for March, 2009

Nordhausen – TramTrains for small towns

March 31, 2009

Nordhausen is a German city at the southern edge of the Harz  mountains, in the state of Thuringia.  Nordhausen’s population is a very modest 44,272 and with a population density of 421 /km², one would think that the town is just too small for light-rail but has a metric gauge tramway network with 2 lines (7 km long, built at the beginning of 20th century). The central point of the system is located at the railway station, where a double track ring allow urban electric trams (internal track) and diesel trains (external track) from Ilfed to the Central Station or Bahnhof. To extend the metre gauge tram service along existing metre gauge railways, the local railway adopted the TramTrain concept, first pioneered in Karlsruhe Germany.  This allows local trams to act as regional trains to extend their run along existing Harz railway tracks without any vehicle interchange at the railway station.

nordhausen_duo_tramtrainLook, no overhead wires!

Nordhausen trams and TramTrain should dispel any notion that towns in the Fraser Valley do not have the population or density for successful operation of light-rail, either electric or diesel!

Lawned rights-of-ways = non-user friendly & green transit

March 28, 2009

In stark contrast to SkyTrain’s and RAV/Canada Line’s (in Richmond) ugly elevated concrete viaducts, Europe is greening their tram-lines. European transit authorities are lawning their tram routes, creating a park like atmosphere, which is further enhanced by trees, shrubbery and statuary. Tram lines, either ballast and tie on the ground or elevated on a viaduct can be an eyesore, but by ‘greening‘ the tram formation and making it a linear park certainly makes new LRT lines an easier sell to local residents; making the tram-line non-user friendly. Even the German Federal Railways (DB) are experimenting with lawned rights-of-ways for ecologically sensitive areas along the railway’s mainline.


The photo shows a Grenoble tram, with a simple station, operating on a lawned rights-of-way, as it were operating in a small park. Certainly the Arbutus Corridor is a natural for lawned light-rail tracks, but also imagine if you will, lawned interurban line in Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack, with the Valley interurban becoming a vast linear park connecting town centres. Talk about green transit!

In today’s Tyee – Hats off to Prof. Condon and UBC, they are now planning for the 21st Century!

March 25, 2009


In today’s Tyee is a very interesting item about LRT, Gateway and how monies invested (some say squandered) in the Gateway – Port Mann Bridge expansion could provide over 200 km. of LRT for Surrey, Whiterock, Langley, Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and New Westminster! Now add in the 90 km. Vancouver to Chilliwack Interurban and you have the magic 300 km. of LRT (future post) that would be an attractive alternative to the car.

For the entire article:

Calgary’s C-Train Development & Operating Costs

March 24, 2009

C-Train’s Development and Operating Costs

  • Total system development costs to date: $548 M
  • Original cost of vehicle acquisition/unit: $1.2 M
  • Current vehicle replacement cost: $3.9 M
  • Total costs of track construction per meter:
    above ground $30,000
    below ground $35,000
    at grade $15,000
  • Average costs per station: $2.1 M
  • Cost of Rail Control facilities: $3.1M
  • Vehicle Maintenance costs: $13.9M (2006)
  • Station Maintenance costs: $2.8M (2006)
  • Right of Way Maintenance costs: $2.9M (2006)
  • Signals Maintenance costs: $2.4M (2006)
  • Average annual power costs: $4.8M (2006)
  • Annual LRV Operator wages: $6.0M (includes fringe benefits of 21.57%) (2006)

What is interesting is that Calgary’s C-Train operating costs in, 2006, was nearly $33 million, while SkyTrain’s annual operating costs during the same period was nearly $80 million and Calgary’s light rail system carries more passengers!  The Interurban, by comparison would be far cheaper to operate on an annual basis.

World transit system list as of 2006 – from the LRTA

March 20, 2009

The following is the number or various type of transit systems around the world including those under construction, excluding airport shuttles, commuter/mainline rail, entertainment parks and funiculars. Classification always brings areas of doubt, particularly in countries such as Japan and Switzerland where clear dividing lines just do not exist.

Metro (including SkyTrain) – 146

Light Rail                                – 98

Tramways (streetcars)         – 445

Light Railways                      – 143

Heritage Tram                      – 51

Other  (incl. monorails)      – 27

Interesting to note that as of 2006, the light-rail family had 686 systems in operation.

Trondheim – A template for light-rail in the valley? It’s a cert!

March 13, 2009
Population (2009)
 – Total 168,257
 – Density 480/km2 (1,243.2/sq mi)

Trondheim, Norway boasts the northernmost tramway line in the world: the Gråkallbanen, the last remaining bit of the Trondheim Tramway is an 8.8 km (5.5 mi) route (which is mostly single-track outside the inner most parts of the city; except the stretch between Breidablikk and Nordre Hoem stations) which runs from the city centre, through the Byåsen district, and up to Lian, in the large recreation area Bymarka.

Please note single track and on-street operation.

With four major urban centres, Vancouver, Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack and an area population of just under 3 million, the success of a Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban would be, as they say in the trade, a cert!

Trams in the countryside – where’s all the density that’s supposed to be needed for light-rail?

March 13, 2009

The following video is of the famous Stubaitalbahn Innsbruck-Fulpmes Tram, which starts in downtown Innsbruck and terminates in the mountains, servicing the small town of Fulpmes. Standard trams are used through out the journey, providing a seamless or no-transfer journey for the customer. The Stubaitalbahn Innsbruck-Fulpmes Tram is just further proof that light-rail can successfully operate on routes in the countryside, connecting urban centres. So when TransLink of Transportation Minister Falcon  says there isn’t enough density for light-rail on the old BCE interurban rights of way, just mention the Stubaitalbahn; the Innsbruck-Fulpmes Tram.

Seeing is believing – Diesel LRT in the USA.

March 12, 2009

The following is the New Jersey Camden “River Line, operating Diesel light rail.

April 11 – Highway 1 Day of Action

March 11, 2009

*BANNER MAKING WORKSHOPS* coming up – Abbotsford, date/time TBA (check back)

Want to help make some history?

“Rail For The Valley” and “Better Transit, Not Freeways” Present…


Gateway to what?!

On Saturday, April 11, from 11:00am to 1:00pm, join with others across the region in hoisting banners above Highway 1 for sensible, sustainable transportation solutions… on overpasses all the way from Eagleridge Bluffs in West Vancouver, to Chilliwack!

google map of locations:

For quite some time now, people across the Fraser Valley have been speaking out, strongly and continuously, for Rail for the Valley.

The public is in near-unanimous agreement that a service is long overdue, and that we must start building a passenger rail network for the Fraser Valley TODAY. Many of us have worked tirelessly to convince our governments of this necessity. After much patient lobbying, however, it appears the only thing our provincial government is interested in south of the Fraser – is “Gateway” highway expansion projects.

The government’s current idea of “balanced infrastructure spending” for the Fraser Valley appears to be: a $3.3 billion 10-lane bridge… and Rapid buses to Abbotsford by 2030 – this is the exclusively rubber-on-road Gateway agenda.

A Gateway to what, we might ask? A Gateway to complete automobile dependency, and a gateway to no rail for the valley. While governments the world over are now making wise investments in light rail infrastructure, in BC we are building bridges, and tearing them down. Meanwhile, the Interurban rail line sits there, waiting, mostly unused.

When will we get long-overdue passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley? Commuters are supposed to cheer the temporary relief of traffic congestion on the new Port Mann bridge, while the light rail needs of the valley, and the united pleas of residents across the region, are completely ignored.

Citizens of the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland, the time has come to make some history!

On Saturday, April 11, from 11:00am to 1:00pm, join others across the region hoisting banners on Highway 1 overpasses, from Eagleridge Bluffs in West Vancouver, all the way out to Chilliwack.

There are many individuals and groups throughout the Lower Mainland who are opposed to our government’s singular focus on highway expansion, and are in support of sensible, sustainable transportation solutions for the Lower Mainland. You are welcome to join us on this historic Day of Action, and make this a success all the way from West Vancouver to Chilliwack! (Please forward this widely, to anyone who may be interested.)

Contact John Buker ( or David Fields ( to “adopt an overpass” near you, or join with others. Be sure to sign-up your friends and family, and even your organization and business.

Banners for the Day of Action can be made at workshops (see details below) or you can bring your own.

Check our Highway 1 Day of Action Google Map to see locations. We’ll keep it up to date and you can see which overpasses still need “adopting” –

More details:

More banner-making workshops to be announced.

– We would like the ability to contact each location by cell phone. Please share your number with us if you have one.

– Not all overpasses along Highway 1 may be suitable for bannering. We will continue scouting locations over the coming days and if we find that your location is risky we will suggest another location.

– Contact John ( or David ( for further details.

Can trams (the interurban) operate with passenger and freight trains? They can in Germany!

March 11, 2009

To everyone who says that the interurban can’t operate on existing railways or share tracks with freight trains, this U-Tube video from Karlshrue Germany should be watched. If the Germans can do it, so can we!