Groundbreaking report on Interurban light rail


The Rail for the Valley/Leewood study is indeed historic, for it is the first time in over 30 years that a truly independent transit study, free of political and bureaucratic influence, has been done in the region. The study shows that the region can build a large ‘rail’ network cheaply, with an affordable vision for future, cost effective extensions.

SkyTrain’s Achilles heel is cost and when one compares the per kilometer cost of the RftV TramTrain and SkyTrain, a full build TramTrain is less than 10% the cost per km. to build than SkyTrain light metro.

Click here to download the full 84 page report

Being affordable to build, enables TramTrain to penetrate to areas, that would otherwise remain unserved by ‘rail‘. The ‘density’ argument, used successfully by TransLink and the provincial government to deter ‘rail‘ expansion South of the Fraser, disappears as TramTrain easily uses existing railway lines, without any any need for expensive ‘greenfields’ construction (like using the median of the Number 1 Hwy.). If on-street operation is desired in town centres, TramTrain can play the role of a streetcar or LRT, yet retaining the ability of cost effective operation to widely spaced population centres using existing rail lines.

The Evergreen Line has demonstrated that funding for SkyTrain is becoming harder and harder and if we look at the ‘full build’ RftV/Leewood Study, a Vancouver/Richmond to Rosedale TramTrain would cost less than one billion dollars or put another way, for the over $1.4 billion Evergreen line, we could build the ‘full build’ TramTrain, plus a Vancouver to Port Moody TramTrain service as well! More rail service, servicing more customer destinations, is the best recipe for achieving a true modal shift from car to transit.

One hopes that the ‘powers that be’ understand that planning for expensive, ‘pie in the sky’ metro is becoming a fools game as there is just not the money to fund such grandiose schemes and in todays economy, TramTrain becomes a most viable option. The RftV/Leewood Study paves the way for a real and cost effective alternative for transit expansion in the METRO and Fraser Valley Regions and one hoped that the politicians will jump on board TramTrain, lest they be left at the station platform, waiting for a SkyTrain that will never come.


4 Responses to “Groundbreaking report on Interurban light rail”

  1. David Says:

    It’s about time something like this was produced. It makes all the SkyTrain extension proposals look ridiculous by comparison. Seriously, do you want rail on a route you could walk in 30 minutes or one that takes an hour to drive?

    I like the fact that no stone was left unturned looking for costs on the initial route. The core of the report is solid.

    Where I feel things go off the rails, so to speak, is when it enters the more speculative topics of service levels and future routes.

    I’m truly baffled at the suggestion that a westward extension would first go to Richmond instead of finding a straight forward connection to Vancouver. I understand that the ancient Fraser River Rail Bridge is the biggest impediment to reaching Vancouver, but that same bridge (and a second one) is needed to get from Scott Road to Richmond.

    I’m also baffled by the mention of Rosedale as a future terminus. Even 40 years from now after people like our current government destroy the ALR completely and the farms are replaced by subdivisions and business parks the route will remain the westward main line for both the CNR and CPR. Getting track time there will be either impossible or so expensive that greenfield construction will start to look affordable.

  2. TheDude Says:

    10% of the cost to build, but 10 times the cost to operate. Granted there are short-term saivings, but long-term operations will get you.

    Zweisystem replies: Absolutely wrong, the operating costs of the TramTrain envisioned in the RftV/Leewood report would be between $7 million and $10 million, compare this with just the SkyTrain metro with operating costs in the $80 million per annum.

  3. Satish Reddy Says:

    I could not find information on a business case for this project. Am I missing something? How many boardings are expected? Thanks.

    Zweisystem replies: The report is a technical one but there is ample scope for about 20,000 to 25,000 passengers a day and judging by the ratio of new passengers on the Canada Line that TransLink deems a success, the TramTrain would be more successful in attracting new ridership!

  4. Leaving Lotus Land « Rail For The Valley Says:

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