An Alstom “Coradia iLint” train, touted by the company as the “world’s first hydrogen powered train.” The train is pitched by South Fraser Community Rail group for use from Surrey to Chilliwack along the existing interurban rail line. (Photo: Alstom)

TRANSPORTATION

‘Rally for Rail’ meetings tout hydrogen-powered passenger train from Surrey to Chilliwack

Public-engagement events with Bill Vander Zalm and others in Cloverdale, Aldergrove and Abbotsford

Three “Rally for Rail” events are designed to keep on track a vision for an “emissions-free hydrogen powered passenger train” to run from Surrey to Chilliwack.

A 99-kilometre, 90-minute route with 12 stops is pitched by the South Fraser Community Rail group, which says reactivated service on the existing interurban rail line would serve about 1.2 million residents in the region.

A “public engagement meeting” about the proposal is planned Thursday (June 13) at Elements Casino, at Cloverdale Fairgrounds, starting at 7 p.m.

The group will host similar “Rally for Rail” events at Aldergrove Kinsmen Community Centre on Tuesday, June 18, and Abbotsford’s University of the Fraser Valley on Tuesday, June 25.

The three events promise appearances by project backers that include former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm, former Langley Township mayor Rick Green and also Patrick Condon, founder of UBC’s Urban Design program.

“Come out and learn the facts about this exciting transportation option that will build our economy, save our environment, and be financially responsible utilizing a free corridor owned by the people of B.C.,” says an event advisory. “Let’s send TransLink a message to start being responsible in its actions for our growing region, let’s show them what real Public Engagement looks like!”

• RELATED: Plan to put hydrogen trains on interurban line from Surrey to Chilliwack picks up speed.

In April, Green said the reactivation of passenger service along the interurban rail corridor would come at a fraction of the cost of a SkyTrain extension.

“The governments have approved $1.6 billion for Surrey (rapid transit expansion) and that’s fine. We’re not interfering in that $1.6 billion,” Green told the Now-Leader at the time.

“What they choose as technology is their business, but they shouldn’t be given any more money that’s going to take away from other projects in the region.

“Regardless of what happens on that, we will be sticking to our guns and working to make this thing a reality. Ultimately, if they decide to go ahead and get SkyTrain to Fleetwood for example, so be it, that’s their business, but we are going to be pushing for this.”

The group says the train proposal would cost an estimated $12.5 million per kilometre compared to the now-dead Surrey light-rail project’s estimated $157 million per kilometre (a figure provided by TransLink last September).

The South Fraser Community Rail group is online at southfrasercommunityrail.ca and also facebook.com/connectthevalley.

– with file from Amy Reid



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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