Monday, February 04, 2008

Rail Transit in BC

There has been a lot of talk about light rail transit in Greater Victoria - the idea is to run trains from Langford to downtown on the E and N line. The idea is wildly flawed and in my opinion a huge mistake. But there might be a new location in BC that might make sense for rail transit.

Yesterday I drove between Vernon and Kelowna and was reminded there is a rail line between the two towns that is in rather good condition.

The line is used to move freight at the moment with its end on the north side of downtown Kelowna.

The route runs along the northern edge of the downtown core. The first problem location is at Clement just east of Gordon. The tracks cross Clement at an oblique angle and the running of rail cars will delay traffic in the area. There is an overpass at where Bernard Ave meets the rail right of way, so there is no issue at that location, but shortly thereafter the tracks cross Spall - this would benefit from an overpass. Just after Spall the line is just over 500 metres from teh Orchard Park Mall.

The next road crossing is at Dilworth which is not a major arterial route.

The tracks come next to Hwy 97 at Leathead and have large areas within short walk of there. From here the line runs right through the middle of significant industrial area. There is a level crossing at Sexsmith, but once again this is not a major arterial route. After the end of the industrial area Hwy 97 has an overpass over the tracks.

The tracks come within about 700 metres of UBC Okanagan. They also run past the airport. Not only is the airport quickly increasing in passenger traffic, Kelowna's airport is also an important industrial area.

The line then runs on the east side of Duck Lake and in the heart of Winfield.

This line would be a total of 24 km. If one were to only go as far as the Airport, this would be 13 km.

This Kelowna based rail transit makes sense because there is very little needed in the way of infrastructure to be built and the line runs close to a lot of locations that have reasonably large numbers of people going to them.

You can run the service on a moderately high volume basis out to the Airport, lower level of service to Winfield and an occasional service as far as Vernon.

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