South Fraser Community RAIL

An environmentally friendly hydrogen powered passenger train connecting the Pattullo Bridge in Surrey to Chilliwack

Hydrail from Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack is the Answer for CleanBC

SFCR supports CleanBC and the health of the Lower Mainland

This is the latest edition of our regular South Fraser Community Rail Newsletter. Please subscribe to stay in the loop of the latest updates! 

Our BC Provincial Government has led the way with their signature environmental legislation, CleanBC.

CleanBC, as stated on the provincial government website, “puts our province on a clear path to a cleaner, better future.

It further states that the “2018 plan includes significant actions that help us to use energy more efficiently and prevent waste, while making sure the energy we do use is the cleanest possible.

The reactivation of the Interurban Corridor for passenger use at NO COST is positioned to be a demonstration of what CleanBC would mean to protecting the environment within the Fraser Valley, out to Chilliwack.

We urge the Provincial Government to move forward as quickly as possible.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that the removal of a significant amount of vehicle traffic from Highway #1 has substantially improved the air-quality in the Fraser Valley.

This interregional transit option is essential for environmentally and fiscally responsible transportation.

Air Quality and Health – What COVID taught us

“Most major Canadian cities saw drastic improvements in air quality over the last two months as COVID-19 kept people at home instead of on the roads. Will working from home be a NEW normal?

Experts say cleaner air, even just for a few weeks, can reduce illnesses like asthma attacks and heart attacks, which have been shown to spike when air pollution is at its worst, and which are also linked with higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19. 

It is interesting to note that during this pandemic there has been a dramatic drop in emergency visits to hospitals, which initially had concerned the medical profession that people were staying at home due to Covid-19. It is now being considered that there were in fact a large reduction in serious illness like heart attacks? If that is so, why?

Chris McLinden and Debora Griffin, both scientists in the air-quality research division at Environment and Climate Change Canada, spend their days using satellite sensors to measure air quality and the presence of pollutants like ozone, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. 

Since the middle of March, when most provinces began shuttering businesses and public spaces and asking people to stay home, their maps have shown significant drops in levels of nitrogen dioxide, one of the main gases produced when fossil fuels are burned to power and heat vehicles and buildings.

“It’s what we call an unexpected, natural experiment,” McLinden said. “It’s not really something you can duplicate in a lab.”

In cities like Toronto and Montreal, the nitrogen dioxide levels fell more than 30 percent, which McLinden said is mainly because there were fewer cars on the roads, and factories either closed or cut production. In Edmonton and Calgary, the drop was closer to 40 percent.

Dr. Sandy Buchman, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said he suspects studies will show the drop in air pollution during the slowdown will coincide with fewer admissions to hospital for heart attacks and asthma.  That in turn, he hopes, will drive policies to cut air pollution permanently.”

– CBC News / Mia Robson Canadian Press posted May 21st, 2020.

The Rail Route Population Center Issue:

When the Interurban went into service (circa 1910), it opened up the Fraser Valley and created population centers along its route, from Chilliwack to Vancouver.

Today, 16 Cities, Municipalities and Communities, 14 Post Secondary Institutions, Abbotsford International Airport, Industrial Parks, First Nations Communities, employment access, Tourism, Agri-Tourism and much more are connected by the Interurban rail corridor.

The Cost Advantage:

In normal times, pre COVID-19, there were very-limited financial (your tax dollars) resources available from Municipal, Provincial or Federal Governments.

The reality post COVID-19 demands clear thinking from our elected representatives at ALL levels, as the financial resources situation is now far more acute.

According to TransLink, the 7 KM run down Fraser Highway to Fleetwood costing $1.6 Billion provides a good business case (we disagree, what input assumptions is it based on?) and yet we could serve the entire South of Fraser region, 99 KMs, for less money than the 7 KMs of SkyTrain.

We insist TransLink revisit this decision, or the Provincial Government intervene. It is the wrong decision; financially irresponsible.

The Provincial Agreement that guarantees the Interurban Corridor for Passenger Service:

In our view it untenable that regional Transit Agencies (TransLink and B.C. Transit) are being obstructionist in consideration of the public use of this corridor, when it was explicitly protected and saved for this purpose by our Provincial Government of 1988.

A primary ~7 KM section of this corridor (“The Joint Section”) had this agreement renewed in July of 2009, 6 weeks before it was lost forever, as requested by ALL Mayors and Councils South of the Fraser.

On behalf of the citizens of BC,  we request that the Provincial Government of today intervene to establish this Passenger rail service, at no cost for its use.

As to any implications that this passenger service would interrupt this freight corridor, this is absolutely incorrect and misleading.

The Master Agreement covering the joint section ensures there is an ability for CP Rail to double track, ensuring the current and future pathways for trade and commerce. Other important features include:

  1. A 21 Year Agreement, renewal at either party’s option, including the renewal clause. Renewed in July of 2009, next renewal by August 26th, 2030.
  2. Passenger Rights are protected at no cost up to 33% of the total wheelage on Joint Section tracks.
  3. Traffic on this section shall be shared equally between Passenger and Freight Traffic.
  4. The Railway Operations Easement Area shall encompass the tracks and an area sufficient to enable CP Rail to double track, construction of such double track to be at the sole cost of CP Rail including the cost of removal and relocation of the works on the lands required to double track.
  5. CP has agreed not to apply for this rail line to fall under the National Railway Act regulations.

Recap of the Benefits of the South of Fraser Community Rail Passenger Project:

  • NEW South of Fraser Reality
    • In 2002 70% of trips starting South of the Fraser ended North of the River, today 70% of trips start and stop South of the Fraser – Surrey Center is our downtown.
  • Cost Effective
    • A Passenger Rail Line using the existing Inter-urban Corridor represents less than 10% of the cost per Km of the Surrey to Langley SkyTrain proposal, while serving 10 times the population.
    • The entire 99 Km state-of-the-art South Fraser Hydrogen Community Rail passenger service connecting industrial parks, 14 Post Secondary Institutions and the Abbotsford International Airport could be fully operational for the same cost as 7 Kms of Surrey to Fleetwood SkyTrain
    • 99.23 kms from Scott Road to Chilliwack that is FREE for the Province to use for passenger service. Unlike the Westcoast Express (North of the Fraser) that costs taxpayers in excess of $20,000,000 per year in leased time
  • Protects the Environment
    • Eliminates need to clear cut some of Green Timbers Urban Forest Surrey
    • 1 Train removes ~177 cars on Hwy #1 from the Fraser Valley Airshed
    • NEW Canadian Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology advances the B.C. Government’s CleanBC signature legislation
  • Economic Growth
    • Directly BOOSTS economic growth through the low-cost movement of residents and goods South of the Fraser
    • Direct access to the Abbotsford International Airport for passenger and employment access up and down the valley
    • Direct access to jobs throughout the Fraser Valley currently with no or very limited transportation options.
  • Ease of Movement
    • Would support and form an integral part of a coordinated and comprehensive transportation network for 1.2 million South of Fraser residents and/or a combined close to 3 million residents to be able to move between North and West Vancouver, Vancouver out to Chilliwack using Seabus, Skytrain and Light Rail
    • Connects 16 Cities, Municipality Population Centers Communities, plus Industrial Parks, International Airport and Special Interest venues that Surrey Center to Langley City SkyTrain does not
  • Promote Fraser Valley Tourism
    • Open up the Fraser Valley and it’s attractions (Wineries / theme parks / Game Farm) to Tourism with access from Vancouver to Chilliwack
    • Open up transportation access to a growing Agri-Tourism business and industry throughout the Fraser Valley
  • Access to Post Secondary Education
    • Connecting Fourteen University Campuses and 58,000 Students and Staff daily South of the Fraser between Surrey and Chilliwack!

-South Fraser Community Rail Society

Contact Rick Green / 604 866-5752

Website –

IMPORTANT – Please FORWARD this newsletter to your friends relatives & neighbors!