– Groups call for light rail over SkyTrain

September 29, 2009
Media Release (for immediate release)

Rail For The Valley and the Light Rail Committee today joined forces in calling on provincial and federal governments, and Translink, to respect the wishes of local governments in the region, and start work on a modified Evergreen line.

John Buker, a spokesman with Rail For The Valley, pointed out that no new taxes would be required to be collected by Translink, if only senior levels of government would listen to the communities affected and build using at-grade light rail instead of Skytrain. Said Buker: “With Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts wanting at-grade light rail for Surrey as well, the potential now exists to rapidly and relatively inexpensively build up a large light rail network in the region, using a mixture of track-sharing with existing railroads and newly constructed light rail.”

Translink’s original proposal for the Evergreen line, supported by area mayors at the time, was as a light rail line. It would have saved about $400 million in construction costs compared to Skytrain. However, Light Rail Committee spokesman Malcolm Johnston points out that we could do much better than even that.

“The Light Rail Committee had years ago proposed a plan for light-rail in the Tri-City area, which would cost a fraction of the cost of Translink’s,” said Johnston. “The plan, which takes into account the advice of several transit consultants, would use use diesel and diesel-electric light-rail vehicles, combining track sharing with existing railways and the use of on-street operation where practical.”

Johnston explained the route of the proposed line: “The plan consisted of on-street operation from Port Moody to Coquitlam Centre, with a spur line using the Ioco freight branch to the Esso refinery line to 1st Ave. in Ioco. The line would then travel South along Lougheed highway till it connected to the  CPR rail line paralleling the Lougheed highway, connecting to the BNSF/CN mainline until it reached Pacific Central Station in Vancouver. This would give very fast journeys for people living in the Tri-Cities to Vancouver and visa versa. The Light Rail Committee estimated that the cost of this line would have been in the neighbourhood of $400 million to $600 million and giving a superior and direct service to downtown Vancouver. For a fraction the cost of SkyTrain or TransLink’s grossly over engineered light-rail plans, we could get a much larger usable ‘rail’ network that would be available to far more transit customers than a truncated light-metro line.”

Questions have been raised as to why the provincial and federal governments, in such trying economic times, would continue to go against the wishes of municipalities who are themselves asking for a cheaper alternative. Many have speculated that the federal government’s interest in finding Bombardier a market for it’s Skytrain vehicles is skewing local transit plans.

Said Johnston: “It’s further proof that the regions rapid transit plans are geared for Eastern Canadian politicians using local taxpayers money to subsidize jobs in both Ontario and Quebec.”

For further inquiries, please contact

Light Rail Committee spokesman Malcolm Johnston
dmjohnston@imag.net
604-889-4484

John Buker
Rail For The Valley
http://www.railforthevalley.com
railforthevalley@gmail.com
867-668-3736

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