Posts Tagged ‘passenger rail’

The Vogtlandbahn TramTrains & Interurbans – A Template For The Valley Interurban

October 29, 2010
 

A diesel TramTrain

The following is a summery of the Vogtlandbahn TramTrain operation in Germany. Contrary to TransLink’s (and Metro Vancouver and Liberal government) spin that one needs oodles & oodles of density for ‘rail‘ transit, the continues success of new TramTrain operations dispels the many negative myths.

The SkyTrain lobby is also desperately hard at work spreading myth and tall tales about LRT, that it can’t do this or it can’t do that and TransLink continues to support these negative myths by claiming that LRT can carry only about 10,000 pphpd and streetcars much less. The truth be know, LRT can carry over 20,000 pphpd! The fear is widespread among transit and planning bureaucrats that LRT, built and operated in any form, will give an apples to apples comparison of light rail and their beloved SkyTrain. The push to build the Evergreen line in the Tri-cities, planning for SkyTrain expansion in surrey and the $4 billion UBC/Broadway subway point to their anti LRT agenda.

TramTrain is about economy and giving the transit customer want he wants, a one stop (no-transfer) travel experience. To provide this, one must plan for cheap transit options, not gold-plated metro and TramTrain is the cheapest light rail option available.

Valley politicians have a choice, either continue supporting SkyTrain light-metro which never will be built or BRT, which has proven not to attract the motorist from the car – or – support TramTrain, a proven transit mode for reducing auto congestion and gridlock for the Fraser Valley.

The Vogtlandbahn  Tram-Trains & Interurbans

The Vogtlandbahn is a private railway company in Germany, which runs diesel trains on regional lines in the states of Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria, Brandenburg, and Berlin and as well as routes into the Czech Republic. Vogtlandbahn is wholly owned by the Arriva subsidiary Regentalbahn.

After German Reunification in 1990, there was a sharp drop in passenger numbers on the local rail network. The railways had old locomotives rolling stock and couldn’t compete with the rapidly improving roads. The Saxony government invested in an attempt to improve the attractiveness of the Zwickau–Falkenstein–Klingenthal line and the Herlasgrün–Falkenstein–Adorf Line, the track was relaid to a 80 km/h standard, disabled access was facilitated at all stations and new stations opened. Train and track maintenace was rationalised and to reduce costs some stations such as Schöneck were restyled as simple halts.

The investments in upgraded track and rolling stock proved successul and reversed the fortunes of the reailway.

A further success, is the extension of the network into Zwickau town centre (TramTrain). Following the example set by very successful Karlsruhe Zweisystem (TramTrain), the lines extend from Zwickau Hauptbahnhof (Main Railway Station) to the central market. As most of the Vogtland network has not been electrified, the train-trams do not use current from the overhead tramwires (as in Karlsruhe) but use diesel engines. From there to Zentrum the train and the tram use the same tracks. To do this, dual-gauge track has been laid; there are three rails, the tram uses metre gauge(1000 mm), and the Vogtlandbahn uses standard gauge (1435 mm). An extra rail was laid next to the tram line so that  they share one rail and each use one of the others as appropriate.

Dual trackage on city streets

Success followed success and several abandoned or disused railway lines were relaid or upgraded for servcie. Today the Vogtlandbahn is the second largest railway company in Geramny.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogtlandbahn

http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/de/private/passenger/Vogtlandbahn/RegioSprinter/pix.html

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News and Letters – October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010

Local news & Letters

Chilliwack Progress#

http://www.bclocalnews.com/fraser_valley/theprogress/opinion/letters/105729548.html

William Chambers has very succinctly scored with a well landed punch on Sharon Gaetz, with this one.

 Also in the Chilliwack Times

http://www.chilliwacktimes.com/news/High+cost+rail+just+myth/3727555/story.html

 Langley Times#

Metro urged to recant rapid transit priority for Surrey

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/langleytimes/news/105694708.html

Two more overpasses planned for Langleys

 http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/langleytimes/news/105490118.html

 Surrey Leader#

Make Bond use transit

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/opinion/letters/105542243.html

 The Province#

Valley commuters need bridge

http://www.theprovince.com/opinion/letters/Valley+commuters+need+bridge/3718612/story.html

A Siemens Combino tram in Budapest colours.

International News

Gold Coast, Australia

http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2010/10/26/265831_gold-coast-news.ht
ml

Phoenix

http://raillife.com/blog/

Los Angeles

http://redondobeach.patch.com/articles/locals-prefer-light-rail

Denver

http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/eaglepcommuterrailpr/

Dulwich Hill, Sydney

http://lightrailextension.metrotransport.com.au/proposed-routes/light-rail-to-dulwich-hill/

Utrecht

http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban-rail/single-view/view/qbuzz-wins-utrecht-sneltram-concession.html

Transit News Around The World October 19, 2010

October 19, 2010

Phoenix

METRO Playing With A Full House

http://raillife.com/blog/

Los Angeles

LAX rail line is early stop in plan to expedite transit work

http://www.dailybreeze.com/opinions/ci_16357591

Tampa Bay

Hillsborough rail plan is still taking shape

http://tinyurl.com/35egf4g

Wellington, NZ

Councillors signal light rail battle lines

http://tinyurl.com/2udcyql

Norfolk, VA

Light rail may be up & running by Dec.

http://tinyurl.com/2es7phc

Ottawa

Transit tops voter issues, poll finds

Taxes, turfing current mayor, also rated important by respondents

http://tinyurl.com/329zt57

Trains get streetwise

October 18, 2010

The following link from the Professional Engineering Magazine …..

http://www.profeng.com/archive/2010/2311/23110053.htm

….. is well worth the read as it neatly sums up the German city of Karlsruhe’s success in integrating transit.

Karlsruhe, it must be remembered, pioneered the TramTrain concept and with stunning results. When the first TramTrain line (which replaced a commuter train & one transfer) opened in 1993, ridership exploded from 533,600 per week to over 2,555,000, (almost 480% increase) in just a few month! Karlsruhe now operates over 410 km. of TramTrain, including lines in the environmentally sensitive Black Forest, with the longest route being over 210 km.

TransLink and METRO transit planners have singularly ignored Karlsruhe’s continuing success and busily chase their holy grail of densification and SkyTrain planning. The mandarins in charge of the regions transit planning haven’t even a clue what light rail is, or for that matter, what a metro is and try, like fitting a round peg in a square hole, cobble SkyTrain planning, making the metro fit a job far more suitable for modern light rail. The result is predictable, a disjointed and very extremely expensive ‘rail‘ transit system that is too expensive to extend, while at the same time has failed to provide a viable alternative to the car.

Today there are 14 cities with TramTrain operation (only 7 cities have SkyTrain), with a further 20 TramTrain operations being planned for and no one is planning to build with SkyTrain at this date. This is the message that is being ignored by TransLink, METRO Vancouver and provincial politicians. Remaining blind, deaf and dumb about light rail and TramTrain translates in to ever increasing taxes to pay for questionable transit expansion.

Who is not afraid to bell the SkyTrain cat?

More Transit News – October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010

From the Victoria Times Colonist

http://www.timescolonist.com/technology/Think+rail+only+rail+future+transportation/3649005/story.html

 http://www.timescolonist.com/sports/Maclean+Cars+here+stay/3651236/story.html

 http://www.timescolonist.com/news/Public+input+sought+last+route/3613881/story.html

 http://www.timescolonist.com/travel/rail+line+along+Johnson+Street/3613919/story.html

 http://www.timescolonist.com/ahead+interchange/3532824/story.html

 Vancouver Courier October 13, 2010

http://www.vancourier.com/technology/case+free+transit+downtown+core/3663446/story.html

 Public transit debate can get messy, murky 

Vancouver Courier Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Vancouver bus routes dwarf Surrey grid

http://www.vancourier.com/life/Public+transit+debate+messy+murky/2900233/story.html

The Tyee

 Get Rolling on Streetcars, Say Gathered Experts

They reduce carbon, promote healthy development, and tourists love them, Translink is told.

http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/10/01/Streetcars/

Coquitlam NOW

SkyTrain is too expensive

http://www.thenownews.com/SkyTrain+expensive/3631453/story.html

Internationally

Philadelphia – work begins on streetcar casino branch

Historic trolley off track

Philly.com

http://www.philly.com/community/Historic_trolley_off_track.html?viewAll=y

http://www.septa.org/maps/trolley/pdf/015.pdf

Phoenix

Valley Metro

http://www.valleymetro.org/metro_light_rail/future_extensions/tempe/

Tempe-South update

http://tinyurl.com/35zampm

http://raillife.com/blog/

Wellington, New Zealand

Councillors signal Light Rail battle lines

http://tinyurl.com/2udcyql

The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – TransLink’s Regional Transit Planning

October 13, 2010

Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally. The logic of the terminology is that if the source of the evidence (the “tree”) is tainted, then anything gained from it (the “fruit”) is as well.

TransLink’s planning officials still maintain that modern light Rail has a limited capacity of about 10,000 persons per hour per direction and refuse to entertain the fact that they are wrong. All of TransLink planning, including the RAV/Canada Line, the Evergreen line, the Broadway/UBC rapid transit line, and Fraser Valley transportation have assumed LRT’s seemingly inferior capacity and despite the fact that modern LRT can carry in excess of 20,000 pphpd, have portrayed LRT as a poorman’s SkyTrain.

The assumption that light rail has only a capacity of 10,000 pphpd is wrong.

The Light Rail Transit Association [ www.lrta.org ], which can trace its history back 63 years, which has continually campaigned for affordable and efficient public transit, defines light rail transit as:

“a steel wheel on steel rail transit mode, that can deal economically with traffic flows of between 2,000 and 20,000 passengers per hour per direction, thus effectively bridging the gap between the maximum flow that can be dealt with using buses and the minimum that justifies a metro.”

The following study from the LRTA, shows that even in 1986, it was generally understood that modern LRT could carry 20,000 pphpd.

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/the-1986-lrta-study-bus-lrt-metro-comparison/

More recently, (2006) Calgary Transit LRT Technical Data page claims that the maximum theoretical capacity of the C-Train is 30,700 pphpd!

Maximum THEORETICAL single direction capacity (pass./hr/dir) at 256 pass./car and 2 min. headway:
3-car train 23,040
4-car train 30,720

http://www.calgarytransit.com/html/technical_information.html

If TransLink’s basic assumption about light rail (including streetcar) is wrong, then TransLink’s entire planning history, regarding bus, LRT, and SkyTrain is wrong and is not worth the paper it is printed on. Yet TransLink, without any public scrutiny and very little political oversight, continues to plan for hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro projects, which supposed support for, has been heavily biased by questionable studies and even more questionable tactics – all fruit from the poisonous tree!

Noted American transportation expert Gerald Fox, summed up his observations on the TransLink business case for the Evergreen line;

” It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.”

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/a-must-read-for-regional-mayors-before-they-talk-transit/

Has TransLink’s regional transit planning over the past ten years nothing more than “Fruit of the poisonous tree?”, based on the fact that TransLink’s bureaucrats desired that light rail (LRT) be seen inferior to SkyTrain, on paper, to ensure further planning and building of their cherished light metro system?

Rail for the Valley would welcome TransLink’s clarification on this issue!

If One Build Metro On Routes That Do Not Have The Ridership That Would Justify Contruction……

October 8, 2010

…..Then One Will Have To Pay Large Subsidies To Build And Operate It!

Large Subsidies Translates Into Higher Taxes!

Of course those high subsidies will have to be borne by the taxpayer, either in gas taxes, car levies, or road pricing (or all three), and or increased property taxes. The current belief by TransLink’s highly paid bureaucrats is that the homeowner in the Metro Region is flush enough to pay more property taxes.

What TransLink isn’t doing is planning for cheaper transit options and the term “affordable transit“, is not in their lexicon. Politicians and bureaucrats in Victoria are the same, as they force the metro region to build more SkyTrain and light metro. The time has come for Metro and Valley politicians to draw a line in the sand with this nonsense. If the politically unaccountable TransLink and Victoria want more SkyTrain in our region, then let Victoria pay for it, or better yet, take back the financial black-hole TransLink has become, in its entirety.

As previously mentioned, TransLink’s anti-LRT rhetoric has skewed all regional ‘rail‘ transit planning to favour SkyTrain, despite the fact that no one around the world buys SkyTrain for regional ‘rail’ transit. One now must consider all TransLink’s regional transit planning reported as “fruit of the poisonous tree” and reject it all!

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/the-10000-pphpd-question-translink-is-hoisted-on-its-own-petard/

TransLink’s business case for the Evergreen Line was so planned to support only SkyTrain construction, has been shredded by American transit & transportation expert Gerald Fox.

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/a-must-read-for-regional-mayors-before-they-talk-transit/

The Rail for the Valley/Leewood report has shown that there is another much cheaper way in providing regional ‘rail‘ transit the light rail or LRT and TramTrain solution.

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/groundbreaking-report-on-interurban-light-rail-released-today/

Thus we come to TransLink’s and the provincial government’s gambit to saddle regional property owners with ever increasing  taxes to continue building with the now obsolete proprietary SkyTrain light metro system. Regional mayors should stand fast and reject any further financial demands for ‘rapid transit’ until TransLink does a complete independent financial review of transit options for future ‘rail‘ transit construction, including the the contentious Evergreen Line and a complete independent audit is done on TransLink itself, SkyTrain/RAV-Canada Line and the bus system.

May Zwei suggest Mr. Gerald Fox or Mr. David Cockle to head such a review?

From the press.

TransLink asked mayors for a $68.5 million handout.

The Vancouver Sun

 http://www.vancouversun.com/news/TransLink+asks+Metro+mayors+million+handout/3639962/story.html

The Black Press

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/news/104509894.html

The Need for Passenger Rail

October 5, 2010

The Need for Passenger Rail

by Rail For the Valley

For a pdf version of this article, click here

October 3, 1910 – 2010

The monumental first Interurban train trip from New Westminster to Chilliwack occurred on October 3 1910. 100 years later, Rail For The Valley takes a look at some important current issues, and misconceptions standing in the way of a service today.

The Fraser Valley Regional Study

In early 2008 the Province claimed a major study of light rail would soon be released, but almost three years later the public is still waiting. The Province has hyped this simple FVRD report as an in depth examination of the feasibility of light rail. Unfortunately this is not the case. The study has little to do with rail at all and only encompasses the region between Abbotsford and Chilliwack. As John Buker noted:

“Given the public support for passenger rail, it’s hardly surprising the Province would try and pass off an FVRD report on Abbotsford-Chilliwack traffic projections as a meaningful light rail study. It’s very doubtful that the provincial report, when it is finally released, will shed much light at all on the potential for an Interurban light rail service.” “What kind of study examining the feasibility of light rail in the Fraser Valley excludes Vancouver, Surrey, and Langley?”

Realizing that the public deserved an honest accounting of the potential for light rail service on the Interurban corridor, Rail For the Valley concluded that an independent analysis was essential.

The independent Interurban Study is completed
September 2010

One of the major hindrances to any light rail study to date has been both the lack of light rail expertise, and of a light rail industry    in    the   province. Provincial studies have relied on Heavy Rail consultants who are simply not qualified to do a major study of a light rail system. The Interurban report is British Columbia’s first study done by experts in the field of light rail.

A highly esteemed rail consultancy firm Leewood Projects Ltd, was commissioned by Rail For the Valley to undertake what stands as the most comprehensive and detailed light rail implementation study in the history of the Province. Leewood Projects is a professionally respected firm in Great Britain that has been involved in major transit projects such as the London Underground, and Croydon Tramlink.

The Province’s own lackluster ‘feasibility’ studies when contrasted against this groundbreaking report are embarrassingly inadequate. The Province’s inference that they have access to more accurate facts and figures is no longer just a myth, it is a falsehood. The Interurban report once and for all demolishes the argument against passenger rail service in the Fraser Valley. The findings of the report are clear:

‘This report concludes that the conversion to 21st Century Community Rail/Light Rail of the BCER Lower Fraser Valley Interurban, will bring positive benefits to the communities it will serve in; Economic &      Inward     Investment,       Tourism, Environment, Health & Social Cohesion. The early implementation of Phase 1, from Chilliwack to Scott Road in Surrey, will be the beginning of the benefits.’ (page 54)

Ridership potential of the Interurban

Light Rail systems around the world are built to attract ridership. These systems are most cost-effective when they are built in areas with less density, before heavy urban development takes place, such as in the case of the Fraser Valley. Failure to build in advance of density results in astronomical construction costs. Recent examples are the Canada Line, costing over $100 million per km, and the planned Evergreen Line, which will cost over $120 million per km. That trend of building late instead of early has cost BC taxpayers billions of dollars.

Led by the city of Surrey, the Fraser Valley is projected to pass Vancouver in population within the next 10 years. This is why it is imperative that this system be built immediately. Opponents in the Provincial Government have been trying to fool the public into believing that ridership might actually be an issue, simply because they would rather spend money elsewhere.

It is a known fact that comparable regions, even regions with less density, have effective light rail systems. We see this in cities such as Calgary and Edmonton. The recent Interurban study was undertaken by a prestigious light rail firm in England, Leewood Projects. It would be absurd for them to even include ridership data in their study. They have shown us that the system is very workable here in B.C. and can be built economically. If they were in the business of planning systems that didn’t work, they would not be the kind of firm that helped build the Channel Tunnel. This shows the hollowness of the Ridership argument.

Costs

According to Translink figures, the West Coast Express commuter service recovers more than 90% of its operating costs. This is despite the fact that as much as half of its budget goes toward a heavy lease fee to CP Rail. The Interurban corridor, on the other hand, does not require any lease fee. The right to operate passenger trains is already owned by the public. The Interurban would serve a population approaching 3 times that of the West Coast Express, and with no lease fee there is little doubt the service would quickly turn an operating profit.

Light Rail systems are one of the most cost effective systems in the world and one of the few modes of public transportation that can pay for themselves. Highways and roads on the other hand cost BC taxpayers billions. The Provincial Transit Plan calls for expenditures of $1.6 billion on buses alone over the next few years. Traffic congestion also has tremendous hidden costs: economic costs, health costs, and costs in terms of environmental pollution.

Ultimately, all of the Province’s current transportation proposals for the Fraser Valley will only serve to increase the traffic on our roads. Reducing road traffic reduces all of these costs. It’s estimated that the West Coast Express service is equivalent to taking 4,300 cars off the road and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 21,502 tonnes a day.

Opponents of the Interurban argue that, with the current Economic hardships, the timing for construction of an Interurban system is poor. In fact, implementing light rail on the existing Interurban Right of Way is incredibly cost-effective ($6 million per km compared to Skytrain $100-140 million per km). A proposed Skytrain extension as far as Langley will further bankrupt the transit system and communities in the Valley have made it clear they prefer more affordable light rail. The system will serve roughly a million people in the Fraser Valley, far more than any multi-billion dollar transit projects under consideration for Vancouver. The alternative to light rail service is to continue pouring millions into expensive government transit projects like Skytrain.

The Future

Today, we still have the opportunity to build a light rail system in the Fraser Valley economically, to all our benefit. The costs of failing to act now are extreme and cannot truly be calculated. A light rail network will help to relieve traffic on our roads, improving our health, our air quality and the environment around us. One day soon this service will connect all the cities of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver in a truly comprehensive transit network. The time to plan that future is today.

The 10,000 PPHPD Question – TransLink is Hoisted on its Own Petard

October 5, 2010

At the recent streetcar symposium in Vancouver, TransLink officials contend that streetcars have very little capacity, almost less than a bus and that light rail can carry only 10,000 persons per hour per direction. This, despite the fact that the Light Rail Transit Association has, since the 1980’s, defined LRT “as a mode that can carry 2,000 to 20,000 pphpd, thus bridging the gap of what can economically be carried by buses and the ridership that would demand a subway“.

Many cities operating LRT or tram, provide capacities of over 20,000 pphpd on portions of their routes during peak hours, including Karlsruhe, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; and Tuen Mun, Hong Kong. Why then does TransLink maintain that LRT can carry only half as much as many LRT operations do in revenue service daily?

The answer lies in the 1994 Broadway – Lougheed Corridor BC Transit/Delcan study, which has formed the basis for TransLink’s questionable light rail planning since. Instead of involving consultants who have hands-on knowledge about LRT (as RftV did), TransLink continues to refer back to this questionable study, that was ill prepared and filled with technical error. TransLink wants to keep the door open for SkyTrain and metro construction in the region!

In order to make modern light rail appear inferior to the much preferred SkyTrain, the B-L Corridor Study used small capacity light rail vehicles, long headways and a small two car station in the middle of the Broadway/Kingsway/Main Street triangle to maintain the charade LRT comparisons to SkyTrain. The ruse has worked well and TransLink still spews out such dreadful bumf about light rail, that American transit and transportation expert Gerald Fox felt compelled to write a letter condemning the SkyTrain Evergreen Line business case!

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/a-must-read-for-regional-mayors-before-they-talk-transit/

If TransLink has been dishonest with LRT planning in the region since its inception, then we must assume that all TransLink planning is dishonest;  “the fruit of the poisonous tree“.

Regional politicians must now consider that TransLink’s metro planning and their so-called public consultations as a sham process and must now demand independent studies by consultants who have expertise in light rail for regional transit planning. If TransLink’s own vast planning department needs to be reduced to accommodate this, so be it, as the transit planning coming from the ivory towers on Kingsway are not worth the paper they are printed on.

A primer on modern light rail for Mr. Shiffer and company:

  1. The difference between LRT and a streetcar is that a streetcar operates-on street in mixed traffic, LRT operates on a reserved rights-of-ways.
  2. LRT and streetcars can carry 20,000 pphpd, or more, if need be.
  3. LRT can and does operate at 30 second headways.
  4. LRT is cheaper to operate than SkyTrain.
  5. Modern light rail has made SkyTrain and the light-metro class of transit obsolete.

It becomes evident why Vancouver and the Metro region is the only city in North America and Europe that uses SkyTrain and light-metro (Canada Line), exclusively for regional rail transit instead of LRT and its variants.

The taxpayer have grown weary of TransLink and carrying the SkyTrain tax burden.

Rail for the Valley in the News!

September 22, 2010

The Rail for the Valley/Leewood TramTrain study has had region wide reporting, with most of the weekly papers featuring this historic news release.

Click here to download the full 84 page report

Surrey Leader, Langley Times & Chilliwack Progress, BC

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/news/103467759.html

or http://tinyurl.com/32zmj7n

Valley light rail all go, twin groups claim

Vancouver Province

http://www.theprovince.com/life/Valley+light+rail+twin+groups+claim/3556678/story.html

or http://tinyurl.com/36aznnb

Chilliwack Progress

http://www.bclocalnews.com/fraser_valley/theprogress/news/103467759.html

 Report supports light rail

‘An honest accounting’ of the potential transit system

Chilliwack Times, BC

http://www.chilliwacktimes.com/news/Report+supports+light+rail/3555699/story.html

 From the North Shore News

http://www.nsnews.com/columnists/Valley+residents+track+with+light+rail/3561755/story.html

Valley light rail all go, twin groups claim
Vancouver Province

http://www.theprovince.com/life/Valley+light+rail+twin+groups+claim/3556678/story.html

Even the Richmond Review and south Delta Leader has Jeff Nagel’s article!

http://www.bclocalnews.com/richmond_southdelta/richmondreview/news/103467759.html

CBC TV News

http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Local_News/BC/ID=1596879406