The many faces of tramtrain; how soon will the Fraser Valley see one?

Diesel LRT in Ottawa

Diesel LRT in Ottawa

It has been a long established transit maxim, long ignored by TransLink and BC Transit before, “use existing rail routes first“.


Because existing rail routes are much cheaper to build and install light rail, rather than going ‘greenfields’ construction.  Of course, SkyTrain and RAV are the epitome of ‘greenfields’ construction!

TramTrain in the snow in Germany

TramTrainGermany The in the snow in Germany

The cost to build a Vancouver to Chilliwack SkyTrain would be in the neighourhood of $9 billion to $10 billion!  It is suffice to say that there isn’t the ridership on the line to justify such an expenditure.

The cost of an electric LRT service from Vancouver to Chilliwack, using existing rail routes, would be in the neighbourhood of $1 billion, ($1.5 billion including a new Fraser River Rail Bridge) which is a manageable sum, especially when compared to the $2.5 billion RAV/Canada line.

With Diesel LRT, the cost of a basic Vancouver to Chilliwack service, using existing tracks, could be as low as $350 million for an hourly service. $350 million is about the cost of 2 km. of SkyTrain!

In a time of financial icebergs looming at TransLink, should not TransLink’s planners be thinking of much cheaper transit alternatives, instead of their grand SkyTrain and RAV lines, that despite their massive costs ($8 billion+) serve a region that only 11% of trips are made by transit, a number largely unchanged for over a decade.

It’s time for TransLink and all levels of  politicians to think Light; think Rail; think affordable Transit.

TramTrain on the mainline in France

TramTrain on the mainline in France


TramTrain in Spain

TramTrain in Spain


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2 Responses to “The many faces of tramtrain; how soon will the Fraser Valley see one?”

  1. Justin Bernard Says:

    Anyone who supports Skytrain simply lacks the vision necessary for a true regional network. They are only concerned with speed, and assume speed is the only factor that gets people out of their cars.

  2. David Says:

    80% of SkyTrain passengers first have to take a bus just to reach it. Riding the bus and transferring sure isn’t my definition of fast.

    I wonder what fraction of the 20% who get to SkyTrain without using a bus have to then use a bus at the other end? Probably a fairly high percentage again, making the total trip an annoying series of mode switches.

    So even those who claim SkyTrain is fast are wrong. It’s only fast if you both live and work along the line and virtually nobody does.

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