Good News Everyone – The Interurban project is inching closer to success!


 Good news in yesterday’s Vancouver Province, about the valley interurban projectgaining momentum with Fraser Valley politicians. If TransLink’s $400,000.00 study for valley rail doesn’t include TramTrain, then it will not worth the paper its printed on. As for TransLink’s business cases, they are not worth the paper they are printed on either, considering how easy US transit expert, Gerald Fox, shredded TransLink’s Evergreen Line business case.

Certainly the following quotes,

“I found several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain. If the underlying assumptions are inaccurate, the conclusions may be so too.”

It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers, selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analyzed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.”,

doesn’t leave TransLink with much credibility. Could it be Rail for the Valley may have more happier news in the spring?

Mayor moves into the driver’s seat

Demonstration line set to be ‘worked out’

By Kent Spencer,  The Province January 7, 2010

Prospects for rail in the Fraser Valley are vastly enhanced by a Canadian Pacific contract that enshrines passengers’ rights, says Langley Township’s mayor.

Rick Green said Wednesday there are “free” passenger rights on a 14-kilo-metre section of CP’s line from Trinity Western University to Cloverdale.

And he said the contract clause has major implications for more than 500,000 residents in Langley and Surrey.

“There’s a real, burning need for efficient transit service. It can be done sooner rather than later,” Green said.

Passenger rights in major North American cities have usually been sold off to large corporations, he said. But in the Langley-Surrey corridor, the rights were enshrined when publicly owned B.C. Hydro sold the track to CP in 1988.

Last summer, Hydro renewed the rights, which would have lapsed, after Green discovered the clause.

“CP was chagrined. The rights are free,” Green said.

A demonstration line should begin soon, he said.

“We’ve got to show how people will flock to a rail corridor as opposed to a bus corridor. The details would have to be worked out with CP,” he added.

It could begin with several modern, fuel-efficient diesel cars and operate several times a day.

At its completion, supporters hope the line would stretch from Chilliwack to Surrey along the old interurban tracks.

CP spokesman Mike LoVecchio said he “has no idea” what the agreement means for future passenger service.

“It’s true that Hydro retains the right to operate a passenger service, but Mayor Green’s interpretation is his own,” he said.

CP rents commuter-rail space for the West Coast Express and has similar agreements in Montreal, Toronto and Chicago.

Green said Fraser Valley municipalities are acting together for the first time.

He chairs the new Fraser Valley Light Rail Task Force, which has council representatives from Abbotsford, Surrey, Delta and Langley Township.

The task force augments community groups such as the Rail for the Valley, South Fraser on Trax, the Valley Transportation Advisory Committee and the Heritage Rail Society.

John Buker, founder of Rail for the Valley, said municipal support is growing.

“Gas prices and global warming are issues that will take hold,” he said. “It’s important to do this right for the sake of the valley’s future.”

The issue is being further highlighted by exhibits, meetings and reports.

The Chilliwack Museum has a yearlong exhibit on the old B.C. Electric Railway interurban line, which celebrates its 100th anniversary on Oct. 1.

South Fraser on Trax will play host to experts from Portland, Ore., at a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12 at township council hall.

And a $400,000 provincial study on valley rail, which focuses on whether a “business case” exists, will be completed in the spring.


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6 Responses to “Good News Everyone – The Interurban project is inching closer to success!”

  1. David Says:

    While I’m pleased to see popular support growing in the valley, the mayors simply do not have the money to fund anything but an extremely limited demonstration project. We still need Victoria to get their heads out of their nether regions.

    Even a demo project will require more cooperation from CP than they’re likely to provide without a proverbial gun to their collective head.

    Then again if the port business doesn’t pick up soon there won’t be any freight trains using that track so running passenger services won’t be any problem at all.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    What we need is someone with money and a vested interest in seeing LRT expand (like a manufacturer), and questionable morals who can show our politicians it will benefit them personally. I hate politics in this country, paying attention to them is only a good idea if you like to get worked up over things out of your control. Canada is a great place to live, but if our governments stopped with their corruption it could be so much better.

  3. David Alexander Says:

    If TransLink’s $400,000.00 study for valley rail doesn’t include TramTrain, then it will not worth the paper its printed on.

    While, I’ll be hesitant about implying direct knowledge of Canadian railway regulations, but you’ll never see true tram-train in the United States primarily because the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) requires separation between streetcars/light rail/subways and mainline railway with the only waivers applying for those systems that have temporal separation. In other words, the freight runs at night and the non-mainline passenger service runs during the day. The Avantos that are used in Paris and the RegioCitadis and other European tram-trains do not meet North American standards for mainline equipment. For the type of service that you’re envisioning, either you’ll get commuter rail, or pray that whoever owns the freight line will be content with only running trains from midnight to 5 AM and go with imported European diesel multiple units like the Talents in Ottawa or the Stadler GTW 2/6s in New Jersey.

    In other words, check if your tram-train proposals are legally possible in Canada.

    Zweisystem replies: You are probably correct, but here is the catch. If we do not change the Railway act to accept TramTrain, as was done in Germany, France and now England, there is no affordable rail proposal for the valley interurban. We desperately need to to change transportation regulations to suit the age. At one time, airline stewardesses, by law, be a registered nurse or more recently, until about 2 decades ago, fly by wire passenger aircraft were illegal to operate. Why then do railways in North America remain 19th century railways.

    As I said before, if TramTrain is not being planned for, the whole planning process is a complete waste of the taxpayer’s money.

    If the Europeans can operate TramTrain safely for over 20 years, there is no reason we can’t either. Do not mistake political inertia for safety.

  4. David Alexander Says:

    Why then do railways in North America remain 19th century railways.

    Primarily because they’re geared toward the preferences of the private freight rail industry. The last thing the freight railroads want is to be sued for their incompetence and lack of real safety (read: proper signals with enforcement), and after any incident, the public wants “something” done, hence the current arrangement.

    If the Europeans can operate TramTrain safely for over 20 years, there is no reason we can’t either.

    As long as there’s some degree of enforcement of signals, it’s rather safe, and I’d like to see more track sharing whether and more importation of European off-the-shelf equipment, but under the current alignment, it’s unlikely to happen, hence the segregated light rail routes or in some cases the lack of construction due to freight railroad opposition.

    Zweisystem replies: Then the Rail for the Valley proposal will not happen. It is time to tell politicians that the rules must be changed to reflect the times and the public is tired of ‘gold-plated’ transit projects that few will use but all pay for. It is also time for the railways to ‘step up to the plate’ or events will overtake them. When ‘Peak Oil’ hits us (the Brits are predicting the first shocks of Peak Oil in 2015) things will change and if the railways were smart, they would start change now; if not, they may be on the blunt end of knee-jerk legislation.

    A note: I have included some time earlier in this the blog, the Induzi signaling system which as created 20 years of safe TramTrain operation.

    The Rail for the Valley proposal is one of change: public led demand for ‘rail’ transit; transit that is designed to suit the customer and not the politician; and legislation to allow 21st century public transit philosophy to happen in the Vancouver METRO region.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I like the idea, but thinking our politicians will do something that is public led? How much support is there, I don’t think enough. The no – hst is supported by over something like 84% of British Columbians, and 100% ignored by government. Unless Gordon finds a way to fill up his pockets on the deal then it is my opinion we won’t be seeing anything like this while he’s in office.

    Zweisystem replies: I agree. what is needed is a very strong grass-roots support for the Valley Interurban and all that goes along with it. Isn’t interesting how politicians make so called impossible decisions possible when their electoral survival is at stake.

    There is another problem, the Vancouver SkyTrain/subway lobby is ramping up their efforts to build a SkyTrain subway under Broadway. This is their last kick at the can, for in the next decade, the City of Surrey will have a greater population than Vancouver and will demand, long denied transit dollars.

  6. Rod Smelser Says:

    “This is their last kick at the can, for in the next decade, the City of Surrey will have a greater population than Vancouver and will demand, long denied transit dollars.”

    Well, … you’re getting very close to the bone here. You’d better check your brakes before you put your car in gear, assuming that the downtown/WestSide crowd checks up on this blog.

    In another discussion someone named Anonymous suggested that if the Valley were getting all the transporation services they wanted, and were making Vanocuver pay for it, they’d be fairly content to hold onto things as they are too. Again, getting very close to the bone.

    There is, though, at least one error in your calculation. If Vancouver can convince Richmond and Burnaby and the North Shore to act as their foot soldiers, Surrey will have to get busy lining up supporting votes too. Burnaby has eagerly agreed to fill this role in the opposition to the PMH1 project.

    Perhaps the Tri-cities will be the swing vote battleground. How many times can Vancouver promise them the Nevergreen line, only to have it pulled away at the last minute in favour of another mulit-billion dollar splurge in Vancouver?

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