Posts Tagged ‘AMTRAK’

Plans for a New, Six Lane Pattullo Bridge Revealed – TransLink’s Next Fiasco!

September 2, 2010
TransLink once again proves that its highly paid bureaucrats just can’t think out of the box or “think three minutes into the future.” As well, TransLink, which also known by many as, ‘Transclunk‘, has firmly shown its true colours as a ‘rubber on asphalt’ organization, which only builds a few ‘showcase’ metro systems to pretend they are solving the regions endemic transportation chaos. With little or no public scrutiny, TransLink plans for what the provincial government wants it to plan for and with its ‘Board of Experts’ who are supposed to oversee TransLink are in fact a ‘Board of Amateurs’, hand picked Liberal cronies, will do what Victoria tells them to do!

 There is no question that the decrepit Putullo is in dire need of replacement. Like the the Lions Gate Bridge, the Pattullo Bridge was a two lane bridge when it opened in the 1930’s and is ill suited for today’s traffic demands. The Pattullo Bridge has not aged well and last years fire on the steal and concrete bridge showed how decrepit the bridge has become.

 What TransLink forgot, as well as METRO Vancouver bureaucrats have seem to have forgotten as well, that next to the fragile Pattullo Bridge, is an even more fragile and decrepit, single tracked Fraser River Rail swing bridge, which case for replacement is even greater that the Pattullo’s! The GVRD in the 70’s recognized that both bridges needed replacing and proposed a twin track, six lane and two LRT line bridge for the location. Provincial politics took over and the Minister of Transportation of the day did not want anyone playing trains on any his bridges, thus the proposal was quietly ignored.

Now with increasing passenger rail service to Seattle and beyond, a possibility of a South Fraser TramTrain, and a general increase in rail traffic over the spindly Fraser River Rail Bridge, one would hope that TransLink would plan for a new road/rail bridge across the Fraser River. It is not to be, as TransLink has seem to quickly loose interest in ‘rail‘ transit once it crosses the Fraser river.

Rail for the Valley believes a new combined road/rail bridge would be a far better project, addressing the needs for both road and rail traffic.

Ah, but there maybe another reason for the “Pattullo‘ announcement. There is an ever growing demand by taxpayers living south of the Fraser River to secede from TransLink and this ill thought out proposal maybe a just a sop to try to quell an anti-TransLink revolt in Surrey and Langley. This proposal for a new Fraser River car bridge, like the Gateway highways and Bridge project is both dated and flawed and events coming later in September may show how dated and flawed TransLink’s myopic planning is!

Plans for a New, Six Lane Pattullo Bridge Revealed

By Damian Inwood, The Province
Surrey and New Westminster residents will soon get a look at TransLink’s plans for a new, six-lane Pattullo Bridge, slated to cost between $800 million and $1 billion.

And the “preferred option” for the new bridge sees access moving from Royal Avenue to Front Street on the New West side.

“We have a couple of open houses coming up on Sept. 14 and Sept. 21,” said TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie Wednesday. “What we will have are a couple of options to look at but one of them will be TransLink’s preferred option. It will show how the bridge will line up, what the road accesses will be and so on.”

Hardie said the preferred option is about 100 metres upstream from the current bridge.

The access on the Surrey side would be “not much of an issue,” he said, although it would require changes to Scott Road and 128th Street.

“In New Westminster right now we connect to the bridge by McBride Boulevard, Columbia Street and Royal Avenue,” he said. “The preferred option that we want to get reaction from the public to changes that a little bit. We would connect via McBride, East Columbia and Front Street but not by Royal Avenue.”

He said after hearing from the public at the open houses, TransLink will come up with a plan for approval by Surrey and New Westminster councils and municipal staff.

Hardie said that while work done on the Pattullo, ending in early 2009, “is good for another 10 years,” TransLink wants the new bridge open earlier than 2020.

“We want to have it in place well before that so, I would say, 2015 to 2016 would be a good target for us to have a new one ready to go,” he said.

Hardie said there’s been no decision on whether or not the bridge will be tolled.

“If we can find some other way to pay for it that doesn’t involve tolls, we’ll take that route. On the other hand if it will take tolls to build it, we definitely need to build it. So tolls will be considered but no decision has been made.”

The open houses are Sept. 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Chuck Baillie Community Centre at 13458-107A Avenue, Surrey, and Sept 21, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Justice Institute at 715 McBride Boulevard, New Westminster.

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Daily trains from Seattle to Vancouver could double – From the Vancouver Province

August 21, 2010
Good news for rail travel in the Pacific North West.
Despite critics, it seems Amtrak’s Cascades passenger rail service is very popular and they are wanting to add two more returns. The provincial government must be embarrassed as our jet setting Premier has not shown any interest in passenger rail service, in fact detest rail altogether, as he single handedly sold BC Rail to his political cronies, without public debate and without any thought to the future.


An improved Vancouver to Seattle/Portland/Eugene Oregon passenger service will see upgrades to the BN & SF trackage in BC, including fencing the White Rock waterfront route to permit higher speeds, more double tracking and high speed switches and put pressure on the provincial and federal government to replace the century old, single track and decidedly rickety Fraser River Rail bridge, with a modern multi track structure.


This, of course, bodes well for future TramTrain service to Chilliwack, White Rock and North Delta. I just hope that BC’s Ministry of Transportation has the foresight and will do expedite the bridge’s replacement.

Daily trains from Seattle to Vancouver could double

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By Frank Luba, The Province – August 20, 2010

Amtrak’s long-range plans for trains into Vancouver could mean four trips a day instead of the current two.

The current two trains — which were expanded for the 2010 Winter Olympics from a single daily trip — are only running because the Canadian government extended a pilot project providing border-clearance service to the American carrier.

The project was instituted in August of 2009 in anticipation of Olympic visitors, and then extended in March to continue through September.

It’s been a hit.

The second train attracted a record of nearly 25,000 passengers in July, and the second-quarter total of 214,641 passengers was an increase of 12 per cent over the second quarter of 2009.

Total ridership on the service, which runs all the way to Portland, was 398,414 through to June 30 — a 17.3 per cent increase over 2009.

Andrew Wood of the Washington State Department of Transport, which helps run the Amtrak Cascades service to Canada, said a decision on the pilot project is imminent.

“[The B.C. government] have notified us that a decision has been reached,” said Wood Friday. “They will be notifying us shortly.”

“The B.C. government is very enthusiastic about the train being on and they have been working with us on this,” he said.

“It’s our intention for this to remain permanent and building on our long range plan, we would like to have more service.”

Wood indicated those plans are to have four trips in both directions.

A spokeswoman for the Canadian Border Service Agency, which deals with the border clearance project, declined to answer queries about the situation Friday.

The B.C. Ministry of Intergovernmental Relations, which has been working with Washington on the Amtrak situation, failed to respond to a request for an interview.

Whatever happens, travellers to Vancouver from the U.S. can get some good deals if they purchase a trip by Sept. 27 for travel though Sept. 30.

In addition to a 25-per-cent reduction on the price of their train ticket, Cascades passengers can get a downtown Vancouver hotel from $107 US through Tourism Vancouver, and a brochure of reduced fees to a variety of sites through Vancouver Attraction Group.

Among the attractionss are the Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours, Grouse Mountain, harbour cruises and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

A video about the Cascades service can be found at

And Now: The Green With Envy Award – Washington to get $590 million for high-speed rail improvements

January 29, 2010

In BC and Canada, there is little money for railways to improve passenger service, yet there are billions of dollars for new highways and bridges. The sad fact is, in BC and Canada new highways and bridges win votes, while the railways are considered a ‘yesterdays’ transit mode. Just $500 million would buy us a Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban.

Washington to get $590 million for high-speed rail improvements

By Mike Lindblom

The Seattle Times

The federal government will spend $590 million in stimulus money to improve rail travel times from Blaine to Portland.

The money represents the Northwest’s piece of an $8 billion stimulus package for high-speed rail, to be announced Thursday in Florida by President Obama.

Only two-thirds of passenger trains run on time on the 3 ½-hour trip between Seattle and Portland, and the state is trying to boost that number to 90 percent. A series of small projects throughout Western Washington — some but not all of which the stimulus money would pay for — would save an estimated 833 hours of delays annually, according to the state. Ridership peaked in 2008 with 775,000 riders.

“Anybody who travels the I-5 corridor in our state knows that we need to find new, efficient options to get commuters and commerce moving. And anybody interested in boosting our state’s economy knows that now is a great time to take action,” said a statement from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, has talked at least four times with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about funding the Pacific Northwest Cascades corridor — stressing that rail could reduce congestion on nearby Interstate 5, a spokesman for the senator said Wednesday.

Thirteen high-speed-rail lines serving 31 states will receive money, including $8 million for Oregon to improve trackways and Portland’s Union Station.

Five round-trip Amtrak trains run between Seattle and Portland each day. Only two go between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., so buses fill out the route. Delays caused by freight-train traffic, and various accidents or obstructions, are common.

Washington state had sought $1.3 billion to fund 26 rail projects from border to border, to prepare for eventually running eight round-trip trains to Oregon. Several projects already include at least partial funding from state tax increases in the 2000s.

The federal stimulus money is devoted mainly to corridors of 100 to 600 miles, in hopes the trains become fast enough to substitute for airplane and car travel.

In the Cascades corridor from Blaine to Eugene, the long-term goal is speeds in the 90 mph to 120 mph range, said the administration’s national rail plan, published last year.

Years ago, Washington and Oregon purchased Talgo trains capable of 125 mph, because of advanced suspension systems that lean into curves. But they are constrained to 79 mph because of congestion, street crossings and flaws in the trackways.

Examples of the many proposed high-speed upgrades include:

• Blaine: a siding track where freight trains can be inspected at the Canadian border without blocking passenger trains.

• Blaine to Everett: reconstruction of tracks, ties and ballast to improve ride quality.

• Seattle King Street Station: seismic retrofits.

• Tacoma: new and upgraded trackways through the city, so Amtrak trains can head directly south instead of looping around Point Defiance. (This will seem like a drawback to many Amtrak riders who love the Puget Sound views and passage beneath the Narrows bridges, but the new Tacoma route also would shave six minutes from the trip and allow a Sounder commuter-train extension to Lakewood.)

• Kelso: a new siding track where grain trains entering the nearby Port of Kalama can wait without obstructing the mainline.

• Vancouver, Wash.: bypass tracks to avoid a large freight yard, moving passenger trains through 2 ½ times faster.

The $8 billion in federal spending is only a fraction of last year’s $787 billion stimulus plan, and several regions have rail desires that far exceed the stimulus money.

For instance, California voters in 2008 approved $10 billion in bonds toward a $45 billion bullet train from the Bay Area and Sacramento to Los Angeles and San Diego, to be a public-private partnership. This week’s award adds $2.25 billion, leaving a huge gap. California had asked for twice that much stimulus, arguing that its project is the only one aspiring to world-class, 220 mph train speeds.

Florida is getting $1.3 billion to start a line between Tampa and Orlando that is supposed to reach 168 mph, a White House project list says.

The administration will add $1 billion for each of the next five years, calling that money “a down payment to jump start the program,” said a statement, which notes that the interstate highway system took four decades to complete.