[Rail] Commuter rail
Posted 04 January 2007 - 04:17 PM
D. Symons: I note that there was an offer by the Siemens corporation for a four-month free trial of operating a commuter service along the E&N line in Victoria -- about a year ago, less than that -- and it seems that that offer was turned down. I'm wondering why, if there was an offer of a free trial of one of their commuter rail cars, we didn't take them up on the offer -- just to see whether there could be a buildup of ridership there and possibly a need met.
Hon. J. MacPhail: Let me give you some preliminary information, and then I certainly will make more available to you. It turns out, as the offer was basically circulated, that municipalities generally rejected the idea. There was going to be quite a bit of investment required in terms of noise buffers, etc., for a trial period, and municipalities rejected the idea on an experimental basis. That's generally the reason, but we can get you more detailed information, as well.
D. Symons: I see in an evaluation of commuter rail service on the E&N line by B.C. Transit, dated November 27, 1996, that the conclusion it came to at the end was that short commuter rail line between Langford and downtown Victoria was not a viable option for LRT or buses and that, based on these findings, a short-line demonstration of commuter rail service would not be of value. That seems to be the conclusion made, based on what Transit found out and also the feedback you got from the communities, which would seem to be the case there.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 04:29 PM
June 5, 2002: VIA operated a one-time commuter train on the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, from Langford into Victoria. There were 89 passengers who each paid $7.00 for the 18-minute trip on the two VIA Budd RDCs. The run was to demonstrate that a commuter train could be viable, and might help to keep the E&N in operation. "The viability of commuter rail is actually from Duncan," explained the Capital Region District chair Christopher Causton. "The Malahat is a difficult road to come down. Give someone an alternative and maybe now you're starting to say this is viable." The demonstration coincided with Clean Air Day.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 04:30 PM
-City of Victoria website, 2009
Posted 04 January 2007 - 04:39 PM
(Copyright Times Colonist (Victoria) 2002)
Jun 7, 2002
The test was a success, with about 80 people riding the E&N from Langford to downtown Victoria the other day. The special run, its organizers say, proved that a commuter train could be viable, and might help to keep the E&N in operation.
Not so fast, though. There is a major difference between a special trial run and a regular commuter service.
The riders on the special run spent $7 each for the 18-minute ride into downtown.
While they were able to get downtown a few minutes faster by train than they would have by bus or private vehicle, that $7 cost could start to wear after a while. Few riders would be willing to spend $70 a week for the thrill of riding a train.
Of course, the bus system is subsidized, so maybe a subsidy should be directed to a commuter train, too. That would get the cost per rider down into an affordable range.
But the E&N would still not be a great deal as a commuter train. There would need to be more than one run -- in theory, trains should be moving every 10 or 20 minutes to be of any real benefit to commuters. So there would need to be several cars, all moving through different sections of the line during rush hour.
And several trains couldn't be in use at one time without major line improvements. So the price tag would keep getting higher, with the expenditure of many millions needed before the commuter dream could be viable.
Increasing traffic on the line would cause major problems for the people who live near the tracks, and are used to hearing just a couple of trains a day. Upping that amount to 20 or so -- enough to make the commuter run worthwhile to users -- would have a serious impact on the quality of life of the people close to the line.
Supporters of the E&N commuter proposal say a run linking the Western Communities to the downtown core wouldn't make sense, because it would be hard to compete with B.C. Transit. They look instead to the Duncan area, which needs a mass-transit link to downtown Victoria.
But just as buses make sense between downtown and the Western Communities, buses make sense between downtown and Duncan. The price tag of an 84-passenger double-decker bus is about $600,000, small change compared to the cost of the upgrading that would be needed to make the E&N a viable commuter route.
And a bus service can be far more flexible as well -- with routes changing to meet traffic needs. A rail line, by its very nature, can't do that.
The commuter run is one of the proposals raised as a possible way to keep the E&N from shutting down after a century of service. A group of people is working furiously on a business plan that would keep the line alive, despite the recent loss of its largest freight customer.
Using the E&N as a commuter line may make sense in theory, but the idea is quickly derailed by harsh economic reality.
-City of Victoria website, 2009
Posted 06 January 2007 - 06:57 PM
Again, take a look at the O-train in Ottawa. The length is 8 km and it is a single track except for the station at Carleton which is mid-way, double tracked, and allows trains to pass. They have service every 15 minutes with a travel time end-to-end of 12 minutes.
I happened to be in Ottawa for work last month and made a point of riding the O-Train. I think we would use it even more than they do. :-)
Posted 06 January 2007 - 07:03 PM
Once some kind of rail is committed, you can encourage much greater densities around the stations, which also takes some densfication pressure off other areas.
Langford and Victoria are already encouraging development along the rail line. I suspect that Esquimalt could rethink its position if it had a station or two to rezone around.
Posted 08 January 2007 - 08:30 AM
Posted 08 January 2007 - 08:55 AM
Posted 08 January 2007 - 05:59 PM
Posted 08 January 2007 - 06:27 PM
^They don't need to use their horn if it's a signalized level crossing with the bells and barrier arms, AFAIK, or at least they don't blow the horns at them here in Vancouver.
That's my experience from other areas, too. If the crossing has a barrier that goes down, no horns. If it doesn't, then horns.
Barriers are much safer, incidentally, but they have to be the kind that drivers don't try to quickly drive around after they come down. Otherwise it's mash-up time. And the horns don't work on kids with iPods/ walkmans -- where I used to live a kid got run over, even though the train was blowing its horn like mad. He had his back turned and his walkman on... Very sad, regardless of the kid's stupidity. Some mistakes you only get to make once. And the train driver had to live with what happened...
But other than that: yes, please, bring on the LRT, the commuter rail, the free downtown shuttle. It would be a tremendous boost.
Posted 08 January 2007 - 06:44 PM
I lived in Tsawwassen and worked in Ladner and if you got caught waiting for one of those trains you were going to be really late for work.
Posted 02 February 2007 - 08:39 PM
Does the train really have to blast its horn so many times on the route? It seems excessive and sure does not help the cause of a commuter rail service. When the train enters the Langford station; the lights at V.M.P (Millstream Rd.) and Goldstream Ave. stay flashing red for the whole time that the train is at the station backing up vehicular traffic. I'm sure these things could be fixed but in the mean time its quite annoying.
Here in the country with arguably the best train system in the world, they have a pretty cool way to deal with level crossings.
First, there are barriers which go down at all level crossings, no matter what size. About ten seconds prior to the barrier dropping, a signal bell sounds warning of the barrier coming down. Because many of these crossings are smack dab in residential areas, the signal bell volume is decreased about 5 seconds after the barrier drops, but continues to sound until the train has passed.
Beside the barriers are two arrows in each direction, warning where the next train is coming from. The train itself also has a signal, but unlike the Dayliner, Japan Rail's warning bells (in urban areas anyways) sound like a bunch of bells ringing, a much more pleasant sound than the Dayliner's ear-splitting shriek.
I really get depressed when I compare the trains here to the Dayliner, or even Skytrain in Vancouver - the Japanese are so far ahead of everybody.
The at-grade crossing closest to my apartment sees probably over 20 trains an hour at peak times (which in Japan is pretty much all the time) and sometimes it can be quite hard to get across in a timely fashion. Watching the old ladies sprint past the barriers can be highly amusing sometimes! They sure are spry.
Anyways, at a lot of the pedestrian-only crossings they are considering underpasses for walking and bikes. Behind that is the inconvenience of waiting for 10 minutes for 4 trains to pass, and also the fact that level crossings are a popular suicide spot here.
Posted 06 February 2007 - 11:05 PM
Some entrepreneur should start something up.
Posted 02 March 2007 - 10:20 PM
Phase 2 of the study is at the end of this month and I plan to be at the open house. The portfolio is now approaching 40 pages.
Right now the provincial government is concentrating solely on Vancouver and the 2010 Olympics so any money for any transportation improvements, whether it is transit, rail or highway probably wont come until after the games. The last budget didnt have anything for the island.
Posted 04 March 2007 - 09:52 AM
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