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B.C. considering Interurban rail link for future transit in Lower Mainland

TransLink rejected the route, local advocates have lobbied for it
Passengers board the restored B.C. Electric Railway Car 1225 at Cloverdale Station, as part of Surrey’s Heritage Rail operations. (File photo)

The provincial government is considering the future of the old Interurban rail link through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack.

Bowinn Ma, B.C.’s minister of state for infrastructure, visited a number of transit hubs along the Trans Canada Highway in Langley on Wednesday, July 21.

Ma said that the government is looking at land use and how the highway interacts with other transit options, including SkyTrain, as well as other potential rail commuter projects such as reviving the Interurban.

“We are taking a serious look at seeing whether that’s a viable option,” Ma said.

The Interurban line existed from the early 1910s to the 1950s, and was officially known as the British Columbia Electric Railway.

At its peak, it extended all the way from Vancouver through Burnaby, New Westminster, across the Fraser River to Surrey, and through Langley as far east as Chilliwack.

It provided passenger and light cargo service for what were then predominantly rural communities south of the Fraser River and out into the Valley.

The rail lines are still in place and are used by mile-long fright trains as part of the Southern Railway of British Columbia.

Ma said the province is looking at how various transit and road components fit together as part of an Integrated Transportation Development Strategy.

The resumption of the service has been promoted by South Fraser Community Rail, with involvement of local political figures like former Langley Township mayor Rick Green and former premier Bill Vander Zalm, who held “Rally for Rail” events in 2019.

However, a 2019 TransLink report said the existing rail route would be expensive and in many areas it does not connect high-density neighbourhoods. The rail line is close to Cloverdale and passes through downtown Langley’s core and the Gloucester Industrial Park, but much of its lenght in Langley is in rural areas.

READ ALSO: Service on Interurban rail would be expensive, miss key destinations: TransLink

READ ALSO: Former Langley mayor pushes for hydrogen trains on Interurban line

Ma also said the province will extend the route of BC Transit’s Fraser Valley Express bus, which currently stops at Langley’s Carvolth transit hub, allt he way to the Lougheed SkyTrain Station in 2022.

Removing transfers between TransLink jurisdictions and BC Transit areas helps reduce inconvenience, Ma said.

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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