Government on track to twin railway line
By Dan Ferguson, Staff Reporter
A federally funded study is looking at double-tracking the entire Roberts Bank railway line that connects the Deltaport deepwater terminal to Eastern markets to reduce wait times for container cargo shipments.
As well, sidings used to park freight trains while they wait to load and unload at the terminal could be lengthened and new sidings could be built, according to the terms of reference for the study, a joint effort by the Port of Vancouver and the federal Transport Canada agency.
While the document doesn't say where the new sidings would go, it's expected most of them would be located near the terminal itself, where multiple sidings already run through farmland in Ladner.
Once the study is completed by the end of the year, the resulting report is also expected to recommend closing a number of the 40 level crossings along the line tat runs through Delta, Surrey Langley Township, Langley city and Abbotsford.
In some cases, budget permitting, the study will recommend overpasses for busy roads to avoid back-ups caused by an increasing number of long cargo trains going to and from Deltaport.
While the terms of reference do not specifically state which level crossings could be candidates for overpasses, they likely include the 152 and 192 Street crossings in Surrey and the Fraser Highway and Langley Bypass crossings in Langley City - intersections where occasionally heavy traffic congestion is worsened by long trains rumbling over a level crossing.
Delta municipality wants an overpass at the entrance to the Boundary Bay airport to keep trains from blocking access, especially in the future, when a planned expansion of the airport will bring regularly scheduled flights and with them, passengers who will not want to be delayed by train traffic.
Crossings likely to be closed will be those nearest the new overpasses and those with low traffic volumes, the study terms of reference said.
Those terms call for production of a "reasonable set of grade separation and road closure options" that will be given to the various municipalities, the railroad companies and federal and provincial government agencies for comment.
According to the same document, the federal government has budgeted $30 million for building railway overpasses and underpasses along the Robert Banks line.
The number of container trains coming from the port is forecast to rise from six per day to nine by 2012. The trains are expected to get longer, too.