British Columbia, Rail Travelis 'On A Roll
travel in BC has gone through an extensive change
over the last decade. Some services have been
curtailed completely; others have been revived,
restructured or privatized, and some are struggling
to maintain their position in the market. There has
been a marked shift in where people are traveling
and the nature of their travel. Increasingly,
operators are concentrating their efforts on the
rail tour and rail excursion markets rather than
the transportation market. The new direction in
rail travel is apparent from changes that have been
introduced in the last ten
1999, Rocky Mountaineer Railtours carried 70,000
passengers on its scenic rail tours from Vancouver
to Jasper, Banff and Calgary. That's an increase of
almost 30 per cent over the 534,000 passengers they
carried in 1998. This year, they expect a 15
percent jump. Amtrak Pacific Northwest ridership
has more than doubled in the past five
Northwest Rail Corridor extends 750 km from Eugene,
Ore. To Vancouver, BC. Amtrak estimates the service
diverts more than 31 million miles of traffic from
regional highways and prevents more than 700 tons
of air pollution in the Pacific Northwest. The
Seattle to Vancouver service carried 85,000
passengers in 1999.
on this page from Transport Canada Newsletter and
report. Fotomation features the Royal Canadian
Pacific Excursion Train, from Calgary, Alberta
through the Kicking Horse Pass to Golden, south to
Cranbrook and return via the Crowsnest Pass and
Short lines and mergers are the two latest trends
in the railway business. As for short lines, BC.
now has four rail companies hauling freight on
short runs - the Kelowna Pacific Railway, the
Okanagan Valley Railway, Rail America/E&N
Railway and the Southern Railway of BC. On the
passenger side, four excursion railways (short run)
now operate in BC - The Okanagan Valley Wine Train,
the White Pass and Yukon Route, the Royal Hudson
Steam Train and the Pacific Wilderness Railway.
Rapid Transit Link.
Transport Canada's recently completed study on Rail
Access to Vancouver Airport recommends all levels
of government work to promote separate right-of-way
rail transit service in the Richmond - Vancouver
corridor, with a connection to the Vancouver
Airport. The study found if commuter and airport
transit co-operation with the Vancouver
International Airport Authority to determine the
requirements for a rapid transit link between
downtown Vancouver and the airport. For more
information contact: George Tyszewics, Senior
Policy Advisor, (604) 666-0480.
brought back its Mount Baker Service, which
runs daily across the border between Vancouver and
Seattle. White Pass and Yukon Rail serves cruise
ships with a 3-hour land excursion out of Skagway
into the Yukon. BC Rail introduced a successful
dinner train service, as well as a service to
Whistler in conjunction with a motor coach trip,
opening up new markets in these areas.
in British Columbia's Rail Passenger System
BC Rail Introduced a dinner train.
Added a train from Whistler, mainly for
motor coach tour passengers.
Experienced no growth on its long-standing
services. Pacific Starlight Whistler
Cariboo Prospector & Royal Hudson
VIA Rail Cut its transcontinental services
from 14/week to 3/week.
Privatized the Rocky Mountaineer.
Converted its northern service to a daylight
Maintained basic service on Vancouver
Canadian - The Skeena- The Malahat
The Great Canadian Railtour Co. built a Rocky
Mountain rail excursion market. The Rocky
Amtrak reinstated Vancouver-Seattle service.
The Mount Baker International
White Pass reinstated passenger service to
cater to Alaska cruise ship passengers. White Pass
& Yukon excursions. There has been modest
overall growth over the last ten years as total
rail passenger trips increased by about 10 percent.
However, this is the net result of extensive
restructuring in services rather than growth in
existing services. In 1989, VIA Rail carried
335,000 passengers on the BC portion of its
transcontinental routes. Volumes dropped sharply as
a result of system restructuring, to the point
where VIA carried about 67,000 passengers on the BC
section of its transcontinental service in 1996, 20
percent of the 1989 volume.
volume on other VIA Rail services and BC Rail's
long-standing services remained essentially
unchanged over the last ten years. The White Pass
and Yukon accounted for most of the growth that has
occurred. Without their contribution, volume fell
by 25 percent over the last decade. More railway
features straight ahead. on another track. Click to
What about a
return to Historic Street Cars as a year-round
tourist attraction and revenue generator? See our
new series Streetcars
makes street sense.
to the Editor