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)

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)

UBCO prof pitches passenger rail service in Okanagan

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society picked up their new van from Mainland Ford in Surrey Wednesday (Jan. 27, 2021) after the society’s old van was stolen and damaged. (Submitted photo: Dylan Van Rooyen)
After thrift store van stolen and damaged, Surrey dealership helps out firefighters’ charitable society

The Community Thrift Store van was stolen in South Surrey in December

In September 2018, former Vancouver Canucks player Dave Babych tees off at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey during the 35th annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
No ‘shotguns’ or banquets: Surrey golf courses pitch COVID-safe tournaments for 2021

With spring on the way, course operators book tournaments that will involve ‘tweaks and adjustments’

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $420,570 in grants for local arts, culture groups

This happened at Monday night’s council meeting, to cover 2021

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Surrey’s public hearings are for being heard

Surrey public hearings of late have been devolving into something less than intended

Surrey native Dylan Kinley, shown here with the Douglas College Royals, has signed with the UFV Cascades. (Douglas Royals photo)
UFV Cascades sign Surrey native Dylan Kinley

Tweedsmuir grad, Douglas Royals star joins Abbotsford-based team for 2021-22

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Most Read