It seems the good Burgher’s in White Rock want the AMTRAK Vancouver to Seattle – Portland train to stop at their city, to give a direct rail service to Seattle. It’s not going to happen. The Soviet style American security types will demand so much expensive infrastructure for boarder security as to make the service unfeasible, so enough of committee meetings etc. and time to plan for a real solution: A White Rock to Vancouver TramTrain service, using the existing BN & SF tracks.
Fairly easy to implement, a TramTrain service would provide a quick and reliable and affordable service, throughout the day. What is needed is a few km. of extra double track, new stations at Crescent Beach; 72nd Ave. in Delta; New Westminster; Kensington in Burnaby and Renfrew St. in Vancouver. This would give end to end travel times from White Rock to Vancouver, in the 50 minute to 60 minutes region, which is competitive with travel times with car and better than the current transit service. For added comfort, as done in Europe, ‘Bistro’ car, offering light refreshment could also operate on the route, offer a service unavailable to current transit users.
In Europe, TramTrain costs start at about $5 million/km. to build, depending on the quality of service that is provided. A quality hourly TramTrain service to White Rock, would cost less than 1 km. of the proposed UBC Subway!
The only impediment is the complete lack of political will to plan for anything other than expensive metros and ecologically destructive highways. Passing legislation to compel the railways to allocate ‘pathways’ for regional passenger rail services is an anathema to politico’s and the railways highly paid lobbyists. One wonders if the spectre of ‘Peak Oil’ will changer the mindset.
In a region where there is a cemented ‘metro’ ind set among planners and politicians, a White Rock to Vancouver would show case 21st century transportation, with the bonus of being in operation by 2012, if we start planning for it today! As well, a successful White rock to Vancouver TramTrain service would make it much easier to implement the Vancouver to Chilliwack TramTrain interurban!
By Brian Lewis, The Province
January 5, 2010
Time to lobby for the train to stop in White Rock
It’s always a challenge for the City of White Rock to raise enough tax dollars to run its micro-metropolis because there’s only about 18,800 residents and a limited business tax base within its 5.16 square kilometres to pay the bills.
Thus, as Mayor Catherine Ferguson acknowledged recently in the Peace Arch News, the city has tough choices to make in setting the 2010 budget.
But there are also opportunities for the little town to increase its economic development cash flow, and that’s why one White Rock councilor is working on the railroad (or the railway, as they’re known in Canada.)
Doug McLean, a business economist who has served on White Rock’s council since 1993, has launched an initiative to return his city to the days when its historic waterfront train station was a regular north-and southbound stop for passenger rail service between Vancouver, Seattle and U.S. points beyond.
The picturesque station was last used for regular passenger service in 1975 but that longtime practice ended due to dwindling ridership.
Currently the station houses the White Rock Museum and Archives.
However, as McLean notes, times have changed and he makes an excellent case for why passenger rail service should return to his city.
First of all, Amtrak now runs a second daily train between Vancouver and Seattle on a pilot project basis so having a stop in White Rock means that anyone south of the Fraser could catch a train for Seattle without having to start the journey in Vancouver.
“It also means you could do day trips to Seattle and be home that evening or, if it’s a weekend, you could catch a Mariners baseball game and be home in the evening.”
More importantly, it would also allow tourists from Canada or the U.S. to get off the train in White Rock and spend time — for the day, dinner or overnight at B&Bs — in the seaside resort.
Ironically, the deal to return White Rock to its glory days of passenger rail was almost done in 2001.
The city and most of the key stakeholders had even signed a memorandum of understanding to make it happen.
Those stakeholders included Amtrak, Burlington Northern and Sana Fe Railroad (it owns the rail line), Transport Canada, as well as Canadian and U.S. customs.
But the initiative fell off the rails, thanks to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.
“U. S. security requirements changed immediately and that killed the initiative almost overnight,” McLean says. “But now I think it’s time to reapproach it.”
To that end, McLean recently sponsored a city council motion, which passed unanimously, to create an Amtrak passenger pail select committee to pursue the initiative once more.
This new group will likely include many from the original task force from 2001.
And so far, the reaction from both the public and rail stakeholder has been good, McLean says.
“We know getting this done won’t be easy and the major hurdle will be getting approval from U.S. security,” he adds.
“But we think it’ll benefit our whole region and over the longer-term it has potential to provide commuter rail service into Vancouver.”