When Henry Braun, the Mayor of Abbotsford was 14 years old the Highway 1 freeway was built.  As he states  in this article from Global News he is now 67 years of age, and that freeway is still pretty much the same. The difference now is that Highway 1 carries so much traffic that it is often congested between Surrey and the Fraser Valley.  In fact, Mayor Braun says that with heavy traffic many access the two areas on side roads much more efficiently.
And that is why the Mayor says that  light rail transit (LRT) in the median of Highway 1 should be built, saying it can take up to two hours in traffic to reach Vancouver from Abbotsford.  He also says the idea of rail transit is not far-fetched, and cites similar conversations from ten years ago.  With a proposed line between the east and west lanes, Mayor Braun says that “the median should be an LRT surface-based transit system like Calgary and Edmonton.”
Braun is not the first person to float the idea of a light rail service to the Fraser Valley. Transit advocates have previously floated the idea of reviving the old BC Electric Railway Interurban line, which ran from New Westminster to Chilliwack until the 1950s.”While the federal government’s transit objectives are concentrated in major urban centres, Abbotsford thinks its time to discuss this potential connection. Funding for the project, or who should administer the service has not yet been proposed.


  1. Yup. A total no-brainer that should have been incorporated into Port Mann bridge & Hwy 1 design. Was it ?

  2. Good indeed… to engage the discussion

    ” the Mayor says that light rail transit (LRT) in the median of Highway 1 should be built, saying it can take up to two hours in traffic to reach Vancouver from Abbotsford.

    but it is unclear how a LRT as pictured above, which typically run not faster than a bus, put in the median (already occupied by a bus lane from Walnut Grove) will help too much.
    I tend to prefer some more drastic change (means think European train running at 160km/h + ) such as:
    and then an alignment more able to penetrate the urban centres, such as:
    In the meantime, the Abbotsford mayor must be credited for engaging the discussion
    but we should eventually start by running a comfortable transit bus, akin of the recently introduced double decker, Abbotsford -> Lougheed Mall (the current BC transit bus stop at Carvolth), just to start to build a market for the train!

    1. So basically a commuter rail? That works pretty well – TransLink could even extend the West Coast Express south to Langley and overlap service.

    2. A great idea, Voony. I would argue, though, that Valley commuter rail should connect with downtown Vancouver, Surrey Centre and several SkyTrain and LRT stations.
      There can be an important role for all forms of rail including a full LRT network throughout the suburbs (Surrey is a good start) and some arterials on the Burrard peninsula. First and foremost we need to finish the SkyTrain network by building its greatest missing link: the Broadway subway. The North Shore cannot be forgotten.
      All rail transit should be accompanied by an agreement with the communities it will benefit to concurrently provide a land use response with careful urban design and appropriate density. Suburbs need to be phased out in favour of towns and villages where greater choice in housing, jobs and transport prevail.
      A smart federal government will help fund these elements under a real and effective climate policy instead of fighting climate change by approving pipelines.

    3. @Alex, understand your viewpoint, the above suggested alignment is taking advantage as much as possible of both the topography and existing corridor (mainly Hydro in fact in Surrey), to get something palatable.
      (I provide more detail on that here)
      I notice that the recently published “Ultra High‐Speed Ground
      Transportation Study” by the Washington DOT find out that a terminal at the airport doesn’t perform as well as a downtown location, so giving some rational for a airport terminus. (which admittedly create much less headache alignment issue than a downtown one)
      Also the above train is considered to run on its own infrastructure separated of the existing railway ones (So the track could be eventually too light or have too much gradient to support a WCE train, but be sufficient for European standards such as double decker TGV, ~17t/axle): that avoid the regulation applying to the current railway lines used by freight trains which severely hinder the economy of passenger rail operations (way too heavy and overstaffed trains).
      If a similar option is also chosen for a Seattle-Vancouver HST (as suggested by the “Ultra High‐Speed Ground Transportation Study”) then the line could be used by such HST, and could connect to US, at “marginal” cost, along the light blue line below:
      in any case, even if the thing is not build tomorrow, i believe a row should be preserved from now.

  3. Running mass transit in a highway median is a terrible idea. We’ve been fortunate that our regional freeway network largely bypasses our regional town centers which, served by SkyTrain, allow them to focus on being more people friendly and less car oriented. LRT in the highway median would not serve our town centres and would tend to end up as a park and ride service.
    I agree with Voony that we should start talking about a real rail network for the Valley but get ridership growing by getting a high quality bus service first. That service should run into town centres and not be focused on park and ride.

  4. I think the most logical way to do this is to make extend a HOV Lane all the way to Abbotsford, then run BRT into the city for a decade or so. This would build up the ridership.
    In the long term, coordinate with Washington in their HSR ambitions, and aim for Huntingdon as a crossing location. Use the right of way for a regional express rail type system, run a system from Vancouver to Surrey, Langley then Abbotsford. Aim for high speed, 150km/h+ on new ROWs.
    The high cost item is going to be the Fraser Crossing for the railway. The current one is far too janky for fast and reliable rail service. It’s time to do a tunnel under the Fraser for commuter rail, freight and HSR as a combo.
    That being said, I build tunnels, so my answer to many problems is a tunnel.

    1. Awesome suggestion! You should promote this more. There is already a rail line from Burlington to Abbotsford. Build the high speed rail in the Hwy1 ROW with spur line to Chilliwack. Tunnel under Fraser. Problem solved. Bonus is high speed rail to Seattle and points south. We have to start thinking big.
      p.s. I also located an abandoned rail line south of Sedro Wooly that would make a nice rail trail.

    2. @ Urbinflux, given the grade change from Surrey Centre, the likely hub station location (SkyTrain, LRT, Valley commuter rail and one of two HSR stops in the Metro), perhaps teaming up with TransLink and the province on a new Pattullo bridge that accommodate several gradations of rail plus four traffic lanes would be the most feasible.

      1. (For reference, I’m urbinflux)
        I don’t think mixing rail bridges with road bridges is often a good idea. The grade tolerances generally make rail bridges much longer, and the structure also tends to be much beefier.
        I’d be very surprised if a new lift span combined with a high-level road bridge would be considered acceptable (which was a previous proposal in the 80s). I think a tunnel for the trains and a bridge for the road crossing would be cheaper than all high-level crossing.
        Anecdotally, there’s a reason why you don’t see many high-level rail bridges over water crossings. For 50m clearence at a 2% grade, you need a 2,500m ramp on either side of the bridge, unless you have some good topography to play with.

  5. The Quebec and Federal Government today announced contracts for the new 67km Montreal Light Rail System.
    Looks like the federal government is picking up half of the $6.3 billion cost.
    No mention that a few million is still needed from car, truck and SUV drivers.
    BC will still be talking for years about a little SkyTrain addition under Broadway, an LRT to Surrey and Langley, a rail link to the North Shore communities, and now, a rail line to Abbotsford.
    The Montreal system will be up and running before the Vancouver mayors, the Abbotford mayor, the North Shore Mayors, the Burnaby mayor figure out what they now want and how they expect to pay for it and then go to the Provincial Government and get a deal that they can then all take to the Federal Government.
    Time to look for new car.

    1. Perhaps you shouldn’t be so pessimistic. Vancouver has had its rapid transit network expanded about every 7 years for 3 decades.
      Montreal, which is a larger region has had it’s network remain almost static since ours was built. I see one extension built in 2007, and the previous one in 1987.
      Vancouver on the other hand had it’s original line in 1985, Surrey in the early 90s, Millennium in 2000, Canada Line in 2009, Evergreen in 2016. That’s a pretty consistent cadence.
      With luck, we’ll get Broadway and the Surrey L-Line by 2023, and maybe a north shore line not long after.

    2. The cost of double tracking existing rail line would cost about the same as 2 kilometers of of the little under broadway line. I Cheap land would open up affordable housing & employment opportunities along the line.

      1. And for the same price you would generate about 5 riders instead of 230,000 that Broadway was predicted to have in 2021.
        Nobody cares about the existing line because it’s a milk run that barely hits any current population centres.
        If you can’t justify running a service that would be fine on a single track, you can hardly justify double tracking that same line. The whole reason the mayor of Abbotsford suggest highway 1 is because it’s a straight shot, and it would be really fast.
        The old tram on the other hand took a few hours to run it’s route with no congestion. I think it was 4 hours from Chilliwack to Vancouver when the BCER ran. I’m sure someone will correct this shortly.
        If you’re reading the “Rail for the Valley” studies, notice that not much gets said about speed or ridership. They’re firmly in the Patrick Condon school, where quality of service counts is ignored relatively to widely spread junky infrastructure. “Steel wheels good, rubber tires bad, and I want this train to go slower”.

  6. (1) A 5 passenger milk run was how critics described the millennium skytrain proposal in the nineties. (2) 90 minutes from Chilliwack to Scott rd Skytrain . station

    1. To be honest, I would still say they built the wrong section of the Millennium Line first.
      I think Broadway should have been the first section built because the demand was there, rather than the middle, where the demand still only requires a 2 car train.

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