WCE expansion way down the track

Negotiations on new deal won't start until a year from now

A West Coast Express train at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver.

A West Coast Express train at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver.

While local mayors say they want to push for RapidBus on Lougheed Highway to hook into the new Evergreen SkyTrain, you’ll see no changes to the West Coast Express commuter rail service anytime soon.

The agreement between CP Rail and TransLink allowing the latter to use CP’s track expires Oct. 31, 2015.

Any expansion of the rail service to Vancouver requires TransLink negotiating more track time in the new agreement.

But talks still haven’t started.

And they’re not likely to start for another year.

Normally, CP Rail won’t start negotiating such agreements until eight or nine months before the renewal date, said spokesman Kevin Hrysak.

West Coast Express service currently is limited to five westbound trains from Mission to Vancouver in the morning and five returning in the evening.

“Negotiations haven’t started,” added Jiana Ling, TransLink spokesperson.

Contract terms or track rental costs can’t be disclosed during negotiations, she added.

Also confidential is a TransLink feasibility study on expansion of the popular service that has been running since 1995. “We’re not able to release it yet,” Ling said.

TransLink announced the study September 2011, partly as preparations for the negotiations. 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.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said he hasn’t advocated for West Coast Express expansion since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and added that it could be a decade before there are a dozen train trips a day.

The federal government has passed legislation making it easier to negotiate with CP Rail for track usage.