BC Hydro Looking to Keep Passenger Rail Service Option Open

While a bit of old news by now, I've had this story open in my browser for a few weeks, waiting to add it to this site, as it's a huge history lesson and a major possibility for the future of transit in the GVRD.

BC Hydro, when forced by the BC provincial government to get out of the rail business and sell its rail lines to CP Rail several decades ago, has contractually maintained its historical right to run passenger trains over at least a section of those lines - the section known as the Pratt-Livingston Corridor.

This corridor runs "from 232nd Street, near Trinity Western University, through the downtown cores of the township and Langley City, then west to Cloverdale", according to the story linked above.

It seems the original agreement of sale included a clause allowing for BC Hydro to maintain rights to run passenger rail along this section - free of charge and up to a third of total line capacity - in perpetuity, as long as the option is renewed every 21 years.

Such use of its lines is likely a latent nightmare for CP executives, and they are working to have this removed. Contrast this 'free' scenario to the WCE: Translink currently pays millions of dollars each year to CP in leasing fees for its WestCoast Express commuter rail line. Not having to pay these track fees would likely go a long way towards making a new passenger rail line financially successful.

According to the story, the "grapevine" has it that "CP is lobbying the Gordon Campbell government to block Hydro's intention of exercising its legal option of renewing the agreement that will protect public use of the line for another 21 years".

Apparently, many at CP didn't even know the clause existed - and it only became public knowledge this last April.

BC Hydro has recently sent a letter to CP stating its intention to renew the option.