VALTAC launches new campaign

VALTAC Campaign truck

VALTAC Campaign truck

At Douglas Park this afternoon, VALTAC launched their now rolling billboard as part of the campaign to get serious attention paid to the potential for reopening the old BCER Interurban line for passengers. The line was closed to all but freight traffic in 1954, but the right of way remains in provincial ownership. Southern Railway of BC operates a few freight trains each week, and part of the route is also used by CN and CP to get trains from their mainlines to Deltaport at Roberts Bank. But the right to run passengers trains was specified in the SRY lease as being retained by BC.

Other cities have utilised existing freight railways to improve transit service – even Ottawa! It is in fact quite common in Europe. And a trial project would not be hard to do. In Surrey the Heritage Railway Society is proposing to run an old interurban car with a fuel cell in what used to be the “express” (freight) car behind to provide power, as while the hydro wires are still in place the old trolley wire was taken down immediately after passenger service ceased. The cost of a pilot program would be a tiny fraction of the $3bn the province is proposing to spend upgrading the original Expo Skytrain – and of course much less than the road oriented “Gateway”.

The province’s lack of interest in even trying out such a system is quite at odds with its current attempts to make itself look “green” as its current transportation plan for the Valley (doubling the size of the freeway to the GVRD border) will only increase traffic and greenhouse gas emissions (something Kevin Falcon and Gordon Campbell try to deny – very unconvincingly. No-one thinks that this would solve all the region’s problems – but it would certainly be a step int he right direction for a change.

The event was ill attended and not well covered by the media. However I was interviewed by Sing Tao Daily who do seem to treat local news more seriously than some of the mainstream outlets.

2 Comments so far

  1. mach1 on August 13th, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

    Par excellence. This entry should have been given coverage hand in hand with the recent mainstream media "news" that smog levels may be going down but guess what? Greenhouse gas emissions have been going up.

    Todays report said that according to a new study from the Canadian Medical Association entitled: "No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution", dismal air quality will prematurely kill as many as 21,000 Canadians this year.

    Economic costs of air pollution will top $8 billion and in some two decades will have risen at present rate to over $250 billion.

  2. mach1 on August 14th, 2008 @ 9:43 pm

    Hi there Stephen this article caught my eye and I immediately thought
    of your work so I hope you find it as interesting and is okay to post it here
    U.S. cities plan to bring back streetcars

    Keep up the great work and writing/contributing.

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