BCER Interurban Car 1401, an Ottawa Car Company built in 1910, has arrived at Langley Prairie Station on its way to Chilliwack in late 1949, with St. Louis Car Company’s 1913-built 1320 in tow as well as a BCER-built 1300 car with the conductor leaning out of vestibule door. The station was re-built by July 1928 after a fire while the vehicle at the left (light colour) indicates a late 1940s model and a 1930s truck. The rail lines are still in use today for freight and some would like to see commuter rail on them again. (Ernie Les Plant/BC Hydro - G.E. MacDonell Collection)

BCER Interurban Car 1401, an Ottawa Car Company built in 1910, has arrived at Langley Prairie Station on its way to Chilliwack in late 1949, with St. Louis Car Company’s 1913-built 1320 in tow as well as a BCER-built 1300 car with the conductor leaning out of vestibule door. The station was re-built by July 1928 after a fire while the vehicle at the left (light colour) indicates a late 1940s model and a 1930s truck. The rail lines are still in use today for freight and some would like to see commuter rail on them again. (Ernie Les Plant/BC Hydro - G.E. MacDonell Collection)

LETTER: Rail advocate says interurban best route for commuter transit

SkyTrain to Langley too costly compared to commuter rail, says advocate

Dear Editor,

For over 12 years, Rail for the Valley has been advocating the reinstatement of the Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban service and in doing so, are being advised by professionals and engineers who have a sound knowledge of public transit systems and transportation modes.

The following are pertinent facts being overlooked by local, provincial and federal politicians.

  • Prior to the 2018 civic elections, the current mayor of Surrey claimed he was an expert and that the SkyTrain could be built to Langley for $1.65 billion.
  • The current estimated cost for the 16 kilometre Expo Line extension to Langley is in excess of $4 billion.
  • The name of the actual proprietary railway used on the Expo line is the Movia Automatic Light Metro (MALM)
  • MALM is the sixth rebranding of the proprietary railway and is now owned by Alstom after it purchased Bombardier’s rail division. Previous brands were Innovia Light Metro; Advanced Rapid Transit; Automatic Light Metro; Advanced Light Rail Transit; Intermediate Capacity Transit System.
  • Due to the flip flop from LRT to MALM, a new business case must be presented and a two year bidding process must be restarted from scratch.
  • The Expo Line extension to Langley is now underfunded by over $1 billion.
  • There has been no planning for building a cement viaduct over the Serpentine Valley and this will greatly increase the cost of the project.
  • The cost of cement and specialty steel needed for light metro construction is rising 2 to 3 times that of the rate of inflation. Inflation is projected to be 2.2 per cent in Canada in 2022.
  • To operate more trains on the Expo and Millennium Lines, a $3 billion rehab must be done to: replace and increase the electrical supply; replace the Citiflow automatic train control system as Bombardier Inc. is no longer supporting it; all switches must be replaced to permit faster running to increase headways, needed to increase capacity; all stations must be refitted to permit higher customer flows (is being done piecemeal).
  • As Vancouver is now the only customer for MALM and as Alstom will complete outstanding (paid for orders) by 2025, they may cease production altogether. This also coincides with the closure of two (Detroit & Toronto’s SRT) of the seven systems built around the world.
  • Two of the now called MALM systems in Yongin, Korea and Kuala Lumpor in Malaysia have involved both Bombardier Inc. and SNC Lavalin in court battles involving misinformation and corruption.
  • The cost for a 130 km, Vancouver to Chilliwack passenger service connecting Vancouver to North Delta, Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, Vedder/Sardis and Chilliwack, with a maximum of three trains per hour per direction is $1.221 billion.

D. Malcolm Johnston, Rail for the Valley

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• READ MORE: Our informal poll showed strong support for interurban rail

• READ MORE: B.C. considering interurban for future transit


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