This RiverLine train in New Jersey is an example of a TramTrain unit being used for commuter purposes. A reader in the Fraser Valley writes in support of such a system for use on the former E&N Railway tracks on Vancouver Island.

TramTrain systems can be economically viable

TramTrain on the E&N viable for both Greater Victoria and Nanaimo, letter writer says.

Re: Rail proponent offers another perspective on E&N (Other Views, Jan. 23)

I read with interest your Op/Ed item on TramTrains by Brendan Read.

The group I am associated with, Rail for the Valley, who want to reinstate the Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban service, commissioned a study in 2010 with Leewood Projects of the U.K. to see if the project was viable.

The consultant who penned the study indeed thought reinstating the interurban service using TramTrain was viable.

The study found that a full build, 138-kilometre Vancouver/Richmond to Rosedale (12 km past Chilliwack) electric TramTrain service, seeing three trains an hour in peak service, could be built for slightly under $1 billion. In conversation with Leewood Projects, the same service with diesel LRT could be had for $750 million, which amounts to $5.4 million per kilometre to build.

The same cost could be applied using the E&N line.

TramTrain, which is simply a streetcar that can operate on regular railway tracks in mixed traffic, was pioneered in Karlsruhe, Germany in the early 1990’s. The first TramTrain service that was put into operation saw ridership expand 479 per cent, from 533,600 passengers per week to over 2.545 million per week in just six months of operation.

Today there are over 16 such services operating in Europe and North America, with many more in various stages of planning.

TramTrain on the E&N is viable for both the Victoria and Nanaimo regions, where starter systems could be had for as little as $250 million per city and which can grow in ridership.

It is time that B.C.’s transportation planning bureaucracy and politicians leave the 19th century, join the rest of the world in the 21st century and embrace TramTrain and light rail. The future is indeed train friendly.

Malcolm Johnston

Delta, B.C.

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