South Fraser Community RAIL

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

Reactivating the Interurban Corridor with state-of-the-art Hydrogen Rail

CleanBC for the Fraser Valley Airshed; fast to reactivate & very cost effective!

Alstom Coradia iLint

It is long past time that our Transit Providers, TransLink, and BC Transit focus on the reality of Post COVID-19, regarding costs, affordable transit expansion solutions, and the practical transit and affordable housing needs South of the Fraser.

We cannot continue pushing forward with constructing Mayoral vanity projects that are outdated, vastly too expensive, not economical in capacity and DO NOT address our real needs.

For example, “Fraser Highway SkyTrain”, is an example of the complete misuse of the scarce financial resources of our region. It was bad enough Pre-COVID-19, but it would be a monumental mistake to continue now, by pretending we are back to normal.

We do not know what our NEW normal will be like!

All indicators suggest our Post COVID-19 period will embrace a new way of doing business and a big new world in Transit.

Specifically, what transit needs will look like, what will the numbers in transit look like; and, equally as important, what will Transit expenditures for capital projects look like, to meet those numbers and that need?

Transit governance in the lower mainland is vastly outdated. We cannot continue to have two Transit providers (TransLink and BC Transit) operating in a region that is quickly becoming one. 

I spoke about this at the TransLink Mayors Council Board Table when I was the Mayor of the Township of Langley. It was clear then, during debate, that there is a parochial mindset with TransLink, the Mayors Council, and the Board of Directors at Translink, that their legislated responsibility only concerns supplying transit service to meet the goals of Metro Vancouver.

Since then, we have had direct and indirect comments from TransLink that indicate that this is still the mindset.

BC Transit, on the other hand, has indicated that the Community Rail discussion is not part of their mandate! 

A review of the “South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority” provincial legislation defines its mandate and responsibility. For the record, their responsibility does not go beyond Metro Vancouver, so any talk that somehow their new Regional Transportation Strategy development “Transport 2050” will deal with anything beyond Metro Vancouver borders is a complete fallacy, it just is not true, it is disingenuous.

So, what about the Westcoast Express train, which crosses the Regional District Boundary?

West Coast Express is a division of TransLink BUT is the exception to the rule. It must be remembered that the West Coast Express was designed, negotiated, and activated in the mid 1990s, long before the new TransLink Legislation of 2014.

The West Coast Express costs us taxpayers, for its lease of CP Tracks alone – 5 Trains in and 5 trains out each day, only on business days – $20,000,000 (that’s $20 million per year) just for lease on use of the rail line.

The Interurban on the other hand, NO COST for its use! As was already negotiated and guaranteed in the terms of purchase.

That agreement includes:

  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.

Our need South of the Fraser: 

We must bring Transit and its governance into the 21st century by introducing affordable, convenient and accessible INTERREGIONAL Transit that will serve 1.2 million residents in 16 communities, 14 post-secondary institutions, employment access, industrial parks, Abbotsford International Airport, Tourism, Agri-Tourism and much more! 

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