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The System 2030      
The System in 2030 - Rail

Rail System

Three class 1 rail carriers link the Gateway to North American destinations: Canadian Pacific(CPR), Canadian National (CNR) and Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF). Together with shortline carrier, Southern Railway of BC, they are the backbone of the freight rail system feeding the Gateway seaports and operate on three main corridors:

Spurred by forecast growth in freight rail traffic and increasing demands for passenger rail service on the network, the Gateway Council carried out a detailed assessment of rail capacity in the Region.

The study identified a set of priority infrastructure investments to ensure adequate rail capacity for future growth in both cargo and passenger volumes. Many of these priorities have now moved to the engineering design phase. The largest single investments identified were replacements for the New Westminster and Pitt River rail bridges.

MCTS Rail Network Improvements

New Westminster Rail Bridge replacement

Est. cost ~ $110 million. The New Westminster Rail bridge was constructed in 1904. It carries some 30 million tonnes of cargo to and from the Burrard Inlet in addition to AMTRAK, VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer services.

Pitt River Rail Bridge replacement

The Pitt River Bridge on the CPR main line carries East - West cargo to and from the seaports in addition to the West Coast Express commuter service. A preliminary estimate for its replacement is ~ $250 million.

Rail Corridor Improvements

Est. cost ~ $127 million. Double tracking, sidings, and grade separations for rail and road traffic at a number of locations on the three main rail corridors.

Making the best use of existing infrastructure is essential to Gateway competitiveness. A variety of innovative approaches are being used in the Gateway, including:

Rail Co-Production
Co-production agreements are commercial arrangements that allow railways to better coordinate train movements. This increases capacity on key sections of track and improves the fluidity of rail operations. Co-production agreements between CNR and CPR and between CNR and BNSF to serve the terminals in the Burrard Inlet, and directional running on CPR and CNR tracks through the Fraser Canyon are significantly improving service levels to the marine terminals.

Inter-modal Operations
Moving containerized goods by rail to and from the seaports and to inter-modal yards East of the Port Mann bridge reduces truck traffic on the roads in the densely populated urban core and provides better service for shippers.

Multi-modal Operations Co-location of container import and export operations reduces or eliminates drayage costs on empty container movements and takes thousands of trucks off the road. Multi-modal operations, such as Modalink, are served by road, rail and waterborne transportation.

Passenger Rail

WestCoast Express
10 trains per day, year round. Mission / Vancouver. 2.0 million passengers were carried in 2004.
2 trains per day, year round, between Seattle and Vancouver. 129,000 passengers were carried in 2004.
VIA Rail Canada
6 trains per week, year round transcontinental service.
Rocky Mountaineer Railtours
6 trains per week during the period from May through October, and on an occasional basis over the balance of the year. 78,000 passengers were carried in 2004.

Presently there are four passenger rail services operating up to 76 trains per week on the Gateway freight rail network. Some 2.3 million passengers were carried on the Gateway rail system in 2004. Although passenger trains represent a small fraction of the overall Gateway rail traffic (22,400 freight trains in 2003), they make up a significant proportion of trains over key rail bottlenecks. For example, the New Westminster Rail Bridge (NWRB), when open to rail traffic, carries ~ 46 freight trains / day with an estimated capacity of ~ 60 trains / day. Scheduled passenger service however requires a window of operation over the bridge that effectively closes it to other traffic for a much longer period than the actual train crossing. While the Gateway Council supports expansion of AMTRAK service to 6 trains per day, steps must be taken to ensure cargo service to the Burrard Inlet over the NWRB is unaffected.