More train service way down the track

Negotiations between TransLink and CP Rail haven’t even started. - News file photo
Negotiations between TransLink and CP Rail haven’t even started.
— image credit: News file photo

It was supposed to be done by September, but four months after that date, commuters are still waiting to hear how, or if, they’ll get more train service between Mission and Vancouver.

“Nothing new to report on the West Coast Express strategy,” Jennifer Siddon, with TransLink media relations, said Monday.

TransLink announced the strategic study of the rail service in September 2011, partly as preparations for negotiations for more track time with CP Rail after the agreement expires in 2015.

That study was expected to take a year and was to include how the commuter rail service could support the new Evergreen SkyTrain line in Coquitlam that will be built by 2016.

However, negotiations for a new agreement on track time between TransLink and CP Rail haven’t even started, CP Rail says.

One of the West Coast Express’s stops in Coquitlam could directly connect with the Evergreen line, which will run from Douglas College, through Coquitlam and Port Moody, to Lougheed Town Centre SkyTrain station in Burnaby.

“If we can get that [increased] service and then link it with the operation of the Evergreen, I think the more-frequent times will feed the Evergreen,” added Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin.

He hasn’t heard definitely, but hopes the strategy is almost complete.

Mission Mayor Ted Adlem said most Mission commuters probably want more train frequency on weekdays rather than weekends.

Currently, the West Coast Express only runs five trains into Vancouver in the morning rush hour and five trains back to Mission in the evening rush hour.

But he’s wondering about the cost to taxpayers of the service and wants Abbotsford to start pitching in, paying something towards the service as 40 per cent of those who board at the Mission station come from Abbotsford.

Following the February 2010 Winter Olympics, during which daytime trains ran packed from Mission to Vancouver, mayors along the line asked TransLink to study expansion of the service. However, their plea was rejected by TransLink.

The strategic study will also include how the Evergreen SkyTrain could complement the West Coast Express.

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