Friday, January 15, 2010


BCRail: a tourist to Vancouver asks "Anybody got any insight into why such a decision was made to not take advantage of an existing rail infrastructure to move large amounts of people?"

Noted in passing ... here's another tourist who (like many of us) cannot believe that BC Rail doesn't exist anymore:

Western Railroad Discussion:

Date: 01/15/10
BC Rail: No 2010 Olympic Service??
Author: usatran

I was up in British Columbia over Christmas with my wife. It was already getting a bit crazy trying to drive up Hwy 99 on the weekends because of traffic trying to get up to Whistler before the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics and I wanted to go to the West Coast Heritage Railroad Park in Squmish. It occurred to me that I should check BC Rail's passenger service and head up the coast that way. Much to my surprise, there is no passenger service! It's been suspended, supposedly to start up later in the year. If you go to the Official Olympics website, there is no mention of rail travel. It's a rough drive up Hwy 99 because in several places, it's only two lanes - one up and one down, that;s it! Anybody got any insight into why such a decision was made to not take advantage of an existing rail infrastructure to move large amounts of people?

[ Reply To This Message ] [ Quote ]
Date: 01/15/10
Re: BC Rail: No 2010 Olympic Service??
Author: FiveChime

There is no BC Rail anymore either!

Regards, Jim Evans

Jeez, Jim, izzat all you have to say????


Parhaps we should tell Jim that, in place of a real railroad we now have an ersatz one that transports nothing but money (in half-million dollar chunks for the most part) into the jeans of a few BC Liberal insiders.
I took the BC Rail passenger trip from North Van to the interior in 1999. It was a great trip, very scenic and comfortable. It cost a bit more than the bus.

The train left from N. Van. I never understood why it didn't go from the downtown station.

I think it would be great if we got that service back.
Way back in March 2004 Charlie Smith wrote

On November 25, the B.C. Liberal government announced in a news release that it had reached an agreement-in-principle with the District of Squamish to transfer 29 hectares of BC Rail land to the district.

According to the news release, prospective plans for the BC Rail site include developing a full-service marina, a passenger ferry terminal, and cruise berths.

The government also announced that CN will "facilitate" upgrading of the Sea-to-Sky Highway and ensure rail alternatives for the 2010 Winter Olympics. McLean was a director of the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, which put together a successful bid to the International Olympic Committee.

The major provincial media continue focusing on the activities of political aides at the centre of the story. There has been little coverage of BC Rail's waterfront property in Squamish.

As the District of Squamish proceeds, there will be no shortage of developers wanting to exploit the potential. B.C.'s biggest players, such as Concert Properties and Concord Pacific, may find such an opportunity irresistible on the eve of the 2010 Olympics.

Executives with both companies were huge supporters of the Olympic bid. Concert Properties chairman Jack Poole is now chair of the organizing committee that is staging the 2010 Winter Games.

The IOC's endorsement last year set the stage for a real-estate boom along the Sea to Sky corridor.

So far, there is no evidence linking the privatization of BC Rail with the Olympic bid.

The premier had better hope this remains the case, because Vancouver will be hosting reporters from around the world in 2010. And it won't help B.C.'s image or the premier's reputation if the selloff of a Crown-owned railway becomes the big story of the games.
reply to Hugh:

I'm not clear who owns the 2nd Narrows rail bridge, CN or Burlington Northern I think, not BCR (when BCR was just BCR), though BCR tracks extended, I think, to just near it, ending in the industrial park southeast of Park & Tilford. Whoever it was wanted track leasage that was too high to contemplate such a service; the route tunnels under North Burnaby and comes up around Brentwood somewhere (where there could have been a station...) and would have, yes, been able to start at Pacific Central Station and interconnect with VIA. I remember at least one op-ed or analyst/report that said projected ridership increases would have helped keep the main BCR passenger service going. One "good" reason why the government wouldn't fund it, huh? (and IIRC this waqs under an NDP government).

Another service that was bandied about was using the tracks from Maplewood/Park & Tilford to Horseshoe Bay/Lions Bay as a local commuter/shopper service. Needless to say, the increasingly snotty residents of West Van along the line didn't want any rabble rolling through their neighbourhoods, especially if there were places for them to get off. This was in fact the original use of the line, long before the Howe Sound connection was opened; providing rail transit to West Van from the ferry dock at the foot of Lonsdale (when all of North Van had streetcar serrice...).

I used to take the train down/up to Whistler and Seton and Lillooet all the time; one of my pet peeves was there was no station at Horseshoe Bay/Eagleridge so, when the train was on time, you could still make the 9 o'clock boat to Nanaimo and/or coming back from the Island; there was no morning ferry that was as early as the train would have been, however. Integrating two crown-owned passenger services was too much to accommodate; I used to joke "in British Columbia, if something makes too much sense, they won't do it".....

Originally the Olympics hype talked about highspeed rail to Whistler, even from Seattle and Portland; White Rock's asinine suburban politics/prejudices sunk that (which might have involved routing it through the Capilano watershed - sounds bad, but remember nobody would be getting off to pee anywhere along the route...and flushing the train's toilets could have been blockable for that portion of the trip.

Further thought; not having a local rail service to/from Lillooet for the duration of the Games and their lead-up would have seriously benefitted the local economies up that way (particularly with rent-outs of vacation properties otherwise vacant for the winter...); but as we know, policy in this province isn't about benefitting local areas, it's about benefitting Liberals, and those who contribute to that party.

Anyone who's not familiar with the book might want to read The Newspapering Murrays, which includes dessciptions of MLA/publisher George Murray's efforts to promote tourism in that region, including helping various lodges/hotels get going.....even minor visions like that are lacking in BC politicians these days, on either side of the bench (or beyond it).
Hugh. The actual BC Rail terminus in the the lower mainland was at the foot of Pemberton in North Van. The yard itself stretched all the way pretty much from there to the foot of Lower Capilano road. Under the Lions gate bridge.The east end of the yard was as stated above near Park and Tiford where the Movie Studios are now or at the Grain elevator on Esplanade.The track crossing Burrard Inlet at the Second Narrows or under the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge (formerly Second Narrows Bridge) was the CN Line. This crossing is not near the CN terminal at Main and Terminal.
The giveaway of our railway gave CN unbroken track from northern BC right to the Waterfront in North Van. And connected it to the rest of their line in BC. It also connected CN at Prince George.
\It was a giveaway as we haven't been able to see where the "people of BC" who owned the Railway benefited in any way from what the numb skull in Victoria Claims
Wasn't it astonishing to hear these remarks from a stranger visiting B.C. who could clearly see the absurdity of losing BC Rail?

So thanks, Gary E.,

your comment today is especially welcome.
The track crossing Burrard Inlet at the Second Narrows or under the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge (formerly Second Narrows Bridge) was the CN Line. This crossing is not near the CN terminal at Main and Terminal.

No, not "near it" but certainly connecting to it via the CN mainline through the Still Creek valley and the Grandview Cut; it's not all that far from Pacific Central Station, any more than Hastings is all that far from Lougheed/Broadway or Cassiar/Boundary from Main Street. And perfectly set up, also, for an Seattle-originating service to head directly for the bridge. Travel time between Pemberton Ave and Main & Terminal maybe 30 min, tops.

As for the bit about strangers to BC making observations that either BC media/politicians or BCers themselves don't, or don't bother to, I remember several conversations with German and American tourists in Whistler, and along Seton Lake, as to "what are all those big square holes on the mountainsides" (i.e. logging clearcuts) or in reference to the ugly powerline cuts along the Whistler corridor or along the south flank of Seton Lake (you can't see the ones along Anderson, which are above the train line...) German said, very bluntly, that he couldn't believe a civilized country could do such a thing. "The Swiss and Austrians have never treated their landscape that way, how can people here be so blind to the harm they're doing?"

I had to be careful of my answers; there were various Lillooeters in the same car, within earshot, who worked at the mill or in the woods, and in that country you could have gotten beaten or threatened, at leaset, for disputing that money was sufficient justification, and foreigners should mind their own f***ing business. They've changed their tune since, as it becomes obvious that tourism may be the area's eventual economic salvation, but the questions remain; as does the distaste of the thousands of foreign visitors, who do not blind themselves to our "economic necessities" or our vulgar way of dealing with the landscape as a result.....
I suppose that because my extended family were pioneers in the BC industry and I grew up around logging, I've never seen "big square holes on the mountainsides" as particularly malignant. Those holes built our cities. Recently, I visited some of the areas that I helped log as a teenager. They will be ready to harvest again within my lifetime.

We've changed our practices hugely and small wood that was left in the forest or burned years ago, now becomes lumber or, at least, pulpwood. Waste that was swept away before, now becomes engineered wood products.

There is nothing wrong with using nature's bounties if we do it wisely. Unfortunately the BC Liberals worship money before nature and they look for quick and easy plunder. Build condos and houses on farmland and open pit mines in the wilderness; steal public assets for the benefit of friends; destroy the salmon fishery in trade for a few sweet inducements; etc.

I await a new generation of politicians; people with principles, not wolves on the make. It will only happen when the citizen of this province get truly outraged about the Campbell Crime Family.
Its still warm and VANOC is slowly rolling out their "concerns" for public consumption about weather. The "concerns" will become greater as the claimed snow efforts fail. Venue switches to the Interior in a few days ??? Why on earth didn't they do a risk assessment on our weather before even making the bid. It would have been smarter to make this truly a BC event and not just Whistler/Vancouver based. VANOC's version of PAB must be hard at work !
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