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UBC prof and students study passenger rail through Langley

The Interurban line still runs through the region and could be used for passengers, a UBC prof says.
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City Councillor Nathan Pachal and Township Coun. Eric Woodward met with UBC professor Patrick Condon and his masters students recently to discuss community transportation needs, population, growth and more as part of Condon’s study. (South Fraser Community Rail photo)

People used to catch the British Columbia Electric Railway car in Langley and ride the trains all the way into Vancouver.

The railway, called the Interurban, ran from 1890 to 1958 between Chilliwack and Vancouver.

The South Fraser Community Rail group wants politicians to bring back passenger rail on the line. which is still in place and used by freight trains.

University of British Columbia professor Patrick Condon is trying to convince politicians and policy makers of the possibilities.

“The old interurban rail line is there for the taking – linking all our great Fraser Valley communities and campuses, from Surrey to Chilliwack,” he said.

“We propose that we activate it, with leading-edge technology – as used in Europe and other parts of the world – for a fraction of the cost and ecological burden of other options.”

Condon, along with 17 master-degree students in urban design, toured Langley City and Township and other neighbouring communities to talk about transportation and related issues such as housing and employment.

“This is only the start of a very intensive campaign for common sense for those charged with managing our tax dollars,” he said.

The population of the Fraser Valley is forecast to increase by 1.5 million people by 2060.

Condon’s study calls for a state-of-the-art passenger rail using modern technology that is already operating in Europe and abroad.

The final report is expected in spring 2019.

INPUT SOUGHT

The Canadian Transportation Agency, which is responsible for rail, will launch an investigation into possible rail service issues in the Vancouver area.

Scott Streiner, chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency, said the plans is to gather information from shippers and others. That will include whether there is discriminatory treatment of certain commodities, how freight rail permits and/or embargoes are being used, and whether railway companies operating in the Vancouver area are fulfilling their service obligations.

Consultation starts with a public hearing on Jan. 29 and 30 in Vancouver.

“The public hearing will give parties an opportunity to submit evidence, as the CTA considers whether railway companies operating in the Vancouver area are fulfilling their service obligations and, if aren’t, what remedies should be ordered,” Streiner said. “We’ll get the investigation done as quickly as possible, but we’ll take the time required to gather all the relevant facts.”

People can learn more about the federal agency at www.otc-cta.gc.ca.

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(Provided by the South Fraser Community Rail)


Heather Colpitts

About the Author: Heather Colpitts

Since starting in the news industry in 1992, my passion for sharing stories has taken me around Western Canada.
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