Diesel Trams for the Interurban – Lessons from Kassel! Part 3


Though the old BC Electric Interurban service from downtown Vancouver to Chilliwack was an ‘electric‘ service, the wires and electrical equipment have been long removed and the remaining railway has been operated as a diesel railway. To get a affordable Interurban service into ‘quick‘ service, Diesel LRT could be the answer and as we see in Kassel, Diesel LRT can be very successful in operation.

What is important but largely ignored in our part of the world is the importance of the seamless or no transfer journey in attracting ridership. The impetus for LRTs evolution to TramTrain was to provide a seamless ‘rail’  journey in Karlsruhe Germany.

Essentially it involves the ‘joining-up’ of a tram network with heavy rail so that local services sharing paths with conventional trains on the main line can travel over both systems, enabling seamless through journeys. The need to change modes is thereby eliminated: accessibility is improved and end-to-end journey times drop. In Karlsruhe’s case, the city centre, about two km from the main station, was the main attraction, and a through journey from the suburbs with dual-voltage electric trams was made possible.

Success of Karlsruhe’s TramTrain was almost instant with a 423% increase in weekday ridership after only a few week is operation! In Vancouver, TransLink’s transit philosophy is the opposite; to design a transit system that will cram every bus rider they can on the SkyTrain and RAV/Canada lines, to claim high ridership numbers. Unfortunately for the transit customer, TransLink doesn’t care about his/hers needs or wants and they show no hint in changing their rather bizarre method of operation to a more user-friendly transit model.

With the TramTrain debate we see the same naivety, where some advocates want a Surrey to Chilliwack only ‘rail‘ service and care little for the ‘rail’ service to terminate in downtown Vancouver, with the result of forcing Vancouver bound customers to transfer to SkyTrain for a 45 minute trip to Vancouver. By extending the service to Vancouver, would provide a ‘seamless‘ journey to the Fraser Valley, with a a potential to service almost one million more customers!

Rail for the Valley do not want to ‘Snatch defeat from the jaws of Victory’ with an ill-planned ‘rail’ line, that looks nice but but fails to meet customers expectations.

The key for the Fraser Valley TramTrain’s success is to design and plan it right and use proven and successful transit models such as Kassel and Karsruhe and not ‘back of an envelope’ planning, based on whims and hearsay. It is extremely important that the proposed Valley Interurban is seen by the public to be successful and to be successful, the Interuban must be the product the transit consumer wants!

A country tram in Austria - Could be rural Langley.


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2 Responses to “Diesel Trams for the Interurban – Lessons from Kassel! Part 3”

  1. zweisystem Says:

    Just a reminder, this is #3 of a 3 part series.

  2. Marv Says:

    Running the TramTrain to Vancouver (instead of Scott Road) from Chilliwack would draw in one million more customers? Is that per day, because that would be more than double skytain’s daily ridership.

    Zweisystem replies: No, it is your ridership potential that increases dramatically. By terminating in Vancouver, the interurbans ridership potential increases dramatically!

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