UBC Okanagan engineering profession Dr. Gordon Lovegrove makes a pitch for a passenger tram-train service from the U.S. border to Kamloops at Vernon council Monday. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Okanagan professor pitches passenger rail

UBC Okanagan engineering prof envisions tram train from Okanagan to Kamloops

Ski Train? Maybe Wine Train? It just won’t be a Sky Train.

UBC Okanagan engineering professor Dr. Gord Lovegrove is visiting Okanagan communities pitching the possibility of a passenger rail service within communities and connecting municipalities from Kamloops through to the U.S. border at Oroville, Wash.

Lovegrove made his presentation to Vernon council Monday.

RELATED: UBCO civil engineer touts cohousing option

“This is sustaining the quality of life. It’s a quality of life discussion,” said Lovegrove, who drew a near-capacity crowd to council chambers to hear his presentation.

What Lovegrove envisions is something that’s happening in Germany. A passenger rail train that uses hydrogen fuel cells/battery rail power, called Hydrail, where the hydrogen cells charge batteries and keep them charged.

There are zero barriers.

The rails are embedded in pavement. The tram-style train can go up hills, around curves. Speeds within cities would be city speed limits. Lovegrove said the train could go 1,000 to 2,000 kilometres before recharging, depending on the frequency of stops being made.

There are no overhead wires, no third rail needed.

“It’s all on-board technology. Zero emission,” said Lovegrove. “It emits water, heat and electricity.”

The cost of such a project was once estimated at $10 million per kilometre. New technology, said Lovegrove, reduces that to $5 million per km with savings and health benefits passed on to the communities. Lovegrove intimated a tripartite partnership between local, provincial and federal governments would help pay for the project.

“The province has said if the municipalities come to us and ask for this, we’ll respond,” he said.

As for location, Lovegrove said the rail could go alongside, in the middle of or in place of highways.

“Where the route goes should be the last topic of discussion. What should be talked about now is do you like the idea?” said Lovegrove, which drew a loud, raucous applause from the audience.

RELATED: Solving B.C. highway safety with speed limits not easy, UBC prof

Coun. Brian Quiring loved the idea.

“It’s all about low impact but running down the highway, like a raised monorail kind of concept, would be the right idea,” he said.

Mayor Victor Cumming said current infrastructure in place in the city would allow for a test of the idea.

“It could run from Kal Tire headquarters (Kal Lake Road) to the Village Green Centre on the existing tracks,” said Cumming. “To run at city speeds, it could go to the Polson Mall, stop downtown and out to Village Green Centre. We also have wider roads that would lend themselves well to such an idea.”

Cumming also pondered about an east-west rail path from Highway 6 and 15th Street to Okanagan Landing.

Lovegrove is pitching the proposal, which he sees being feasible by 2040 or even earlier, to Okanagan communities.

“I’m going up and down the valley building a support coalition before moving on to the next level of government,” he said.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

South Okanagan man honoured with lifetime achievement award

The late Nick Bevanda to receive a lifetime achievement award for his architecture work

South Okanagan dangerous offender guilty plea struck down

Trial delayed again because Ronald Teneycke failed to elect his choice of trial

South Okanagan-West Kootenay candidates talk climate change and environment at recent forum

Forum on Tuesday grilled candidates about plan to bring about low carbon emission economy

Ellis Creek restoration comes with $30 million price tag for Penticton

Residents are able to provide feedback on the restoration plan until Nov. 1

City of Penticton weighs need for a manager of social development

Members of council are divided on whether the position is necessary

Competition shakes up for the Okanagan Mixoff

The Okanagan Mixoff takes place Nov. 7 in Kelowna

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Six bears destroyed in three days in West Kelowna

A West Kelowna business has been charged for leaving garbage around Lake Okanagan Resort

West Kelowna Warriors being sold back to BC Hockey League

Current owner Kim Dobranski said the sale back to the BCHL should be completed by the end of October

Police standoff ends peacefully in West Kelowna

A distraught man was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

Most Read