Re: Better ways to get around towns, Sept. 11 letters.
While I enjoyed much of business journalist Brendan B. Read’s letter to the editor, I have to pour an ice bucket of cold water on his proposal for an added rail in Surrey and Langley using a diesel-multiple-unit (DMU) operated commuter train from Vancouver’s old Great Northern Railway station site all the way to Chilliwack.
It ain’t not never gonna happen.
While he purports that a system called the South Fraser Express would provide direct, quality service on existing tracks, “like the West Coast Express, but with short trains and platforms,” it will never get on the tracks, as it has been derailed before it can even get out of the car barn.
The BC Hydro railway line from New Westminster to Chilliwack is still being used for light freight service, as it has been since 1910. Its use for commuter purposes will never happen, despite the fact that BC Hydro renewed all passenger rights in the Master Agreement in respect to the Pratt-Livingstone section of the Fraser Valley Corridor, which is heavily used by Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian.
In a study that I carried out over a decade ago, the line is not feasible for commuter rail for the following reasons: lack of demand; cost of upgrading the line; lack of available property for stations and car-parking facilities between Scott Road and the City of Langley; and conflict with use of the line between Cloverdale and east of 232 Street on the north side of Highway 1.
The line is mostly single-tracked between Pratt and Livingstone junctions, and the cost to double-track it would be exorbitant. While parts of the line between Cloverdale and Langley City are double-tracked, extensive work would be required to upgrade it and other sections for the heavy demand that the future may bring in coal-train usage to Roberts Bank.
So, in short, dreams of a commuter train serving the south side of the Fraser River from Vancouver or New Westminster to Surrey and beyond – whether it is Light Rapid Transit or DMU – are nothing more than pipe dreams of a few rail enthusiasts.
Use of part of the line for Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society’s restored BC Electric Railway interurbans 1225 and 1304 – when it is fully restored in 2017 – is all that will ever happen on the line.
As a recreational train service from Cloverdale to Sullivan, FVHRS’ restored interurbans will never see their way past Cloverdale. And, as years go by, as members pass on, all that the society has acquired may end up in a warehouse owned by the City of Surrey.
The city has hopes of an LRT line along the King George Boulevard from the City Centre to White Rock, as well as along the Fraser Highway to Langley.
Dreams. All pipe dreams.
As for extending the SkyTrain system past King George Station… don’t hold your breath.
It is time to take off the rose-tinted glasses and realize that the only way to reduce congestion on our roadways is to increase the bus service.
It is time to give up living in the past.
G.E. MacDonell, Abbotsford