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Chilliwack council on the right track, wants hydrogen-fuelled train task force


Proponents of a Fraser Valley railway system made a well-received presentation to City council Tuesday. Below, Rick Green makes his presentation to council.






hear the train a comin', it's rollin' 'round the bend.

Former Langley City mayor Rick Green, the man with "the plan", laid his "Community Rail South of the Fraser InterUrban Corridor" (CRSFIC) ideas on the table at Tuesday's Chilliwack City Council meeting.


The best part about it? The trip would be free.


By the end of the presentation, council was on track and whole-heartedly supporting a motion to forward the information, an 88-page summary, with an 8 foot map, to the Fraser Valley Regional District who in turn will be asked to create a task force to look at the feasibility of a rail project.


The task force would consist of an MLA, an MP, a councillor from each municipality that would be affected plus about 4 or 5 residents from a variety of different locations.

Councillor Chris Kloot was the first to throw his support behind the idea.

"It's a no-brainer. Some serious looks needs to be brought to our attention in the region" he said. "I think Southern Rail runs one or two trains a day, so how would that work on one rail line?"

Green responded saying that Southern Rail runs their two or three trains at night but added they're working on building Terminal 2 which will increase traffic to 35 trains a day.


Councillor Jeff Shields, who is also chair of Transportation Advisory Committee, said he familiarized himself with the train via the website.


"I think it's the train is an excellent idea," he said. "Hopefully we can get a provincial task force together that doesn't take 2 years to come up with something," he said.


"The task force would be well-balanced. It's not Translink-overloaded, it's not BC transit overloaded, but properly done so we get proper answers," said Green.

He says they call the train project the "Smart Way" to overcome transit deficits.


The trains will be the most interesting part. They're powered by new CO₂ emission-free state of the art hydrogen fuel cell technology developed in BC, manufactured in Ontario and tested in Germany. Hydrogen is a clean alternative to diesel or electricity. Amazingly, the byproduct is just steam and condensed water.

Green said that adding lanes to Highway 1 isn't a feasible option.

"Realizing that widening a few kilometers at a time will take decades and by the time you're finished with the project, your growth will have outgrown your highway widening by 3 times," he explained.

Green said that when the project is up and running, the trip to Surrey will be about 99 kilometers long take 90 minutes to arrive at the bridge, depending on how many stops there are, which he estimates to be in the area of 14. There will be a stop in Yarrow, Sardis and Chilliwack with access to 14 educational institutions along the way.


"This is a great initiative for this region it would be very well-served."


Fraser Valley air quality is a big concern that needs to be addressed.

Green says that one train can take 177 cars off the road and in that way would help to cleanup the air shed as it moves through 16 communities. The plan also lends itself to both tourism and agri-tourism possibilities.

There will be Park and Rides at the Pattullo bridge and Chilliwack.

The trains will use the existing Southern Rail line which currently runs two or three trains a day. The train has the potential to serve 1.2 million people and a projected million more in a few years on the south side of the Fraser River as opposed to 384,000 on the north side.

By utilizing the existing infrastructure, the cost of the Interurban Corridor line is $12.7 million per kilometer compared to Skytrain or West Coast Express which both cost in excess of $300 million per kilometer. The train platforms wouldn't be anything like the expensive Skytrain ones and styled after the European simpler models.

According to Green passenger rights are protected and have always been so.


"The only thing that was sold to Canadian Pacific Railway was the BC Hydro Freight Division, rolling stock and rail, but passenger rights were protected in perpetuity for 21 years from 1988 and then renewed agreement in 2009. But we came within 6 weeks of losing this line to CP forever," he said.

Councillor Bud Mercer inquired about paying for maintenance and staff and Green told him that initially that was included in the $12.7 million estimate.

Someone has to pay for the annual operating costs. It wouldn't be too far-fetched for CRSFIC to ask the provincial and federal governments, and municipalities, to subsidize it without gas increases or any other kind of tax.

Green name-dropped mentioning former BC premier Bill Vander Zalm who he said loved it.

"He's all over this," said Green adding that he spoke with current BC premier John Horgan about it while on the campaign trail.


"But key here is support from Chilliwack council and the FVRD."


Watch a video of the Alstom Coradia iLint train.




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