MP for Kootenay-Columbia explores electric passenger train service – Nelson Star

Kootenay-Columbia MLA Rob Morrison says he is working on land to bring electric passenger train service to the area.

Morrison said there is a clear need for more transportation options in the Kootenays, as well as ones that use clean energy. A small train, with maybe 24 passengers, he says, running on CP Rail lines is realistic.

“For me, I think it’s manageable,” Morrison said. “We can use existing tracks, we can use existing technology for electricity.”

Travel in the Kootenays is currently limited to personal vehicles, BC Transit routes and limited flights from airports such as Castlegar, Trail and Cranbrook.

Morrison said voters told him a Cranbrook-Creston route through Yahk made sense, especially in winter when road conditions make driving difficult and tend to cancel flights out of Castlegar.

Eventually, he said, other routes such as Nelson-Castlegar would also be added.

“I think it would be great if I could come to a meeting in Nelson by just jumping on the train at Creston, spending a day and a night or whatever and moving on,” he said. “I think that would be awesome.”

Morrison said the idea isn’t just a politician’s dream either.

He had a meeting with Tesla to discuss the concept – no, it wouldn’t be a Hyperloop – and is preparing a feasibility study that would make an environmental and commercial business case for a small-scale passenger service that could be presented to the government. federal.

“I’m not trying to start a multi-billion dollar business,” he said.

Speed ​​limits on CP lines, as well as the mountainous geography of the Kootenays, preclude a high-speed rail concept. But Morrison, a Tory MP, said a regional electric train service works as a non-partisan solution which he says will appeal to the Liberal government, which has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45% by 2030.

“It’s very good for our environment. It’s good for our communities,” Morrison said.

Passenger train service in the Kootenays ended in the 1960s, but Morrison isn’t the first person to consider bringing it back in some form.

A group of residents pitched CP Rail on a passenger service that would run between Procter and Nelson, but that plan came to nothing after CP said in 2011 it was not interested in operating the service.

In 2019 Castlegar and District Economic Development called for consultants to research a train service that could be used by commuters or tourists. Nothing came of it.

@tyler_harper | [email protected]

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Jose P. Rogers