More Valley transit news.
Tyler Olsen, The Times
Published: Friday, March 12, 2010
Promoters of a rail line connecting the Fraser Valley with Metro Vancouver are urging Chilliwack politicians to jump aboard plans for a demonstration project along the old interurban rail line.
Chilliwack is the only municipality between here and Delta not represented on the South of the Fraser Rail Task Force headed by Langley mayor Rick Green.
“What we’re working for is simply to develop a demonstration project to show that this would work, that it’s viable and that it’s cost-effective,” Rail for the Valley spokesperson John Vissers–who also works with the task force–told the Chilliwack Rotary Club Tuesday.
While Vissers said participation on the task force isn’t required for Chilliwack to be part of a demonstration project, he added that Chilliwack’s support and assistance is vital for the project to be an unqualified success.
“We don’t believe this plan will proceed in the scope we think is necessary without Chilliwack’s full support,” said Vissers.
“If Chilliwack doesn’t participate as a player, then they might get left out of the planning process, and that would be a shame.”
Mayor Sharon Gaetz told the Times it’s too early to commit to the committee.
She pointed to an ongoing Fraser Valley Regional District study that is looking at transportation options between valley communities and is slated to deliver its final report at the end of May.
“They spent almost $400,000 on this study and the results haven’t come back yet, and we just think it’s premature to be advocating one particular solution without all the information,” said Gaetz.
“When and if we get to that place we will be happy to sit at the table.”
Gaetz said Chilliwack must ensure that it can afford whatever costs a new rail (or bus) system would require.
She said city staff estimated upgrading the 17 or 18 crossings required by a passenger rail system would cost about $500,000 each.
“Unless the province swoops in with a whole tanker of money, I don’t think it’s something we could afford right now.”
Rail for the Valley would like to see light rail trains run along the little-used Interurban rail line that weaves through Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley and Surrey.
Vissers stressed the line would be a community rail system (rather than a commuter system) that focused on linking south-of-the-Fraser municipalities together. One terminus would be in Chilliwack, the other at the Scott Road SkyTrain station. Along the route there are shopping centres, industrial areas and several university and college campuses.
“The goal is to connect the communities south of the Fraser, not just provide a route into the downtown Vancouver core,” said Rail for the Valley president Paul Gieselman.
Quizzed on the cost, Gieselman said cost would be cheaper than alternatives. He pointed to the public ownership of the right of way, the existence of track and the need for low-tech station platforms that would cost far less than their ritzier SkyTrain cousins. Upgrading the rail crossings would be the largest cost, he predicted. But he said all the work could be done relatively quickly and for the cost of three kilometres of SkyTrain track.
“A demonstration project could be implemented far earlier than any other comparable transportation project,” he told Rotary.
The hope is that the province would fund a demonstration project that could itself lead to a permanent rail system.
It seems Chilliwack’s staff are not on board with the Interurban project and have been advising the Mayor badly. What is needed is a complete rewriting of the motor vehicles act, pertaining to streetcars, on-street streetcar operation and modern signaling. If a station or stop is included in an intersection, there is no need for crossing barriers. In fact there need not be any additional barriers needed if we call the proposed interurban project a streetcar or TramTrain.
Zwei lives in South Delta and there are three highway intersections ( Hwy 17) where vehicles are allowed to travel at 80 kph, yet there are no barriers to be raised or lowered at the intersection which is simply is controlled by traffic lights and I would like someone to explain to me why a railway crossings differs. Red lights or stop signs mean stop.
I think the good mayor had better get on board with the interurban project, lest she be left behind at the station!
Tags: Abbotsford, C-train, Chilliwack, cost per km, demonstration project, Diesel LRT, Evergreen Line, Fraser Valley, interurban, Karlsruhe, Langley, light rail, LRT, Patrick Condon, Rail for the Valley, Surrey, trams, tramtrain, transit, VALTAC, Vancouver