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

‘Significant number’ of Kelowna rentals over 40 years old: report

From 2011 to 2016, 73 per cent of new households in Kelowna were rentals, according to the city

Fire in Kelowna apartment started in garbage can

The apartment was evacuated for a 4th-floor fire

Crane removal from downtown Kelowna to close streets

What goes up must come down and Ellis Street will be affected

Suspect restrained by bystanders after unprovoked assaults in West Kelowna

A 33-year-old Ontario man faces a number of potential charges

Car crashes into Kelowna business

Damages were done to the storefront of Interstate Batteries All Battery Centre on Banks Road

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

Civil claim filed over motocross track west of Summerland

Track was constructed on agricultural land around 2016

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Car catches fire while being towed by motor home on Hwy. 97

The incident occured just north of Sage Mesa Rd., no injuries have been reported

Most Read