ELECTION 2015: Green Party promotes rebooting rail in the valley

Fraser Valley candidates put transit plan forward, along with $1 billion price tag

  • Sep. 23, 2015 8:00 a.m.

The federal election has rekindled discussion around the old interurban rail line.

Fraser Valley Green Party candidates are proposing a project that would reactivate the BC Electric Interurban, and connect Surrey to Chilliwack.

The proposal includes the electrification of the West Coast Express (WCE), extending the WCE to Abbotsford using existing freight track, and the reactivation of the BC Electric interurban line to allow direct travel from Chilliwack to Vancouver.

“The first step of the proposed regional rail project is the reactivation of the BC Electric Interurban as a tram-train from Scott Road in Surrey to Chilliwack, passing through Langley, Abbotsford, and Yarrow,” reads a statement from Chilliwack-Hope Green Party candidate Thomas Cheney.

“For too long people in the Fraser Valley have been unable to have effective transportation” stated Cheney.

They see the proposal as a better alternative to transit issues than a current Translink proposal. The Greens say the cost of the first phase of their plan would be about $1 billion.

Using existing rail infrastructure and right-of-way is an option widely used in many jurisdictions, Cheney added.

“Commuter rail has a controversial history in greater Vancouver, related to concerns that it would promote suburban sprawl” he said. “What regional plans did not envision with the impossibly high housing prices within the greater Vancouver region. The question is not whether Greater Vancouver’s future is suburban, but rather whether suburban growth takes a transit oriented form or continues down the car dependent path it has historically followed.”

The push to reawaken the interurban rail line is not a new one.

While the Green Party does not mention Rail For the Valley in their press release, that movement is still campaigning for a revitalization of the Interurban.