Archive for July 9th, 2010

Rail For The Valley puts squeeze on city

July 9, 2010

I find it very strange that The municipality of Chilliwack is not involved with the South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force and many local residents would like to know the reason why? Certainly having a direct rail connection to Vancouver would be a bonus for both local businesses, especially tourist oriented businesses and for local residents, with reliable and timely communication with Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey and Vancouver. Being involved with the South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force would dispel the many myths about ‘rail’ transit and TramTrain, especially the assertion of mayor Gaetz, that trains can’t travel faster than 10 kph on the former BCE route.

Not so, as Rail for The Valley envisions a 90 kph service along the line, not unlike the express interurban trains that once raced along the route for 50 years. The geometry of the track was designed for short wheelbase interurbans (not unlike modern TramTrain) not today’s heavy freight trains, with freight cars up to 25 metres in length on less than adequately maintained track.

It is time for Chilliwack politicians to get involved, as their indifference could be inferred that they don’t care for 21st century public transportation and could mean that the Valley interurban would only go as far as Langley or Abbotsford. Such short sightedness, especially in an age of high fuel prices, global warming, traffic congestion, and pollution, the City of Chilliwack Council could very ‘miss the train’.

Rail For The Valley puts squeeze on city

By Robert Freeman – Chilliwack Progress

Chilliwack is the only municipality in the Lower Mainland not on board a task force lobbying for a community rail system.

“For the last three years, Rail For The Valley has been pressing the issue of a passenger rail service that would run from Chilliwack to Surrey,” said RFTV spokesman Paul Gieselman.

“Much progress has been made … however, this has not been a unified movement,” he said.

The South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force includes representatives from Delta, Langley and Abbotsford – but not Chilliwack.

“Chilliwack has been invited, but has not decided to get on board,” Gieselman said.

An open house is being held in Chilliwack July 8 to inform the public about the work of the task force, and “put pressure on the city” to join, he said.

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz has balked at committing the city to passenger rail until a transportation study by the provincial government is completed.

She is also concerned about the potential cost of restoring the old Inter-Urban rail line that once ran from Chilliwack to New Westminster.

Just upgrading the 17 or 18 rail crossings could cost $500,000 each, according to an estimate by city staff.

But Gieselman said the mayor is getting hung up on the costs instead of the potential benefits.

The Chilliwack open house starts at 5 p.m. at Evergreen Hall on Corbould Street.