VALTAC launches new campaign
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.