Vancouver Downtown Historic Railway

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Vancouver Downtown Historic Railway
VancouverTram.jpg
Tram car 1207
Overview
Type Heritage streetcar, seasonal
Status Service indefinitely suspended
Operation
Opening July 29, 1998
Closed Fall 2011
Operator(s) Transit Museum Society
Technical
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Old gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 600 V DC
Route map
Granville Island
Leg-in-Boot
Science World (closed until further notice)
Proposed extension to Waterfront Station and Stanley Park

The Vancouver Downtown Historic Railway was a heritage streetcar line that operated from 1998 to 2011 between Granville Island and Olympic Village Station (north of 6th Ave just east of Ash Street) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It operated only on weekends and holidays, usually from May to mid-October, and was aimed primarily at tourists. Two restored interurban streetcars were used on the line, which used a former freight railway right-of-way.

The line was owned by the City of Vancouver. The cars were operated by volunteers from the Transit Museum Society. The car shown (1207) is privately owned.

Heritage service[edit]

Service was inaugurated on July 29, 1998, and was considered to be a demonstration project for a modern downtown streetcar system that the city plans to develop.[1] It continued to operate almost every summer through 2011, as an excursion-oriented historic streetcar line. In 2010, the heritage service did not operate, because the line was used for a modern-streetcar demonstration service known as the "Olympic Line" (see section below), and temporary modifications made to the line's overhead wire for that operation took longer than expected to undo, also delaying the start of 2011 service. The 2011 season began on July 1 and was scheduled to run until mid-October.[2] The line did not operate in 2012,[3] with service suspended indefinitely due to financial constraints, and there are no set plans to resume operation.[4] Further, a Vancouver City Council report published in March 2014 recommended against ever reviving service on the heritage line.[5]

When last fully operational, the line ran from Granville Island to a stop near Science World and SkyTrain's Main Street-Science World Station. Since then, however, Olympics-related construction has razed sections of the line east of SkyTrain's Olympic Village Station on the Canada Line.

Fleet of heritage railcars[edit]

 Make/Model   Description   Fleet size   Year built   Year retired   Notes 
built in New Westminster, British Columbia Interurban car 3 - only 1207 remains 1905 1958 ex-British Columbia Electric Railway
St. Louis Car Company Tram Originally 20; 5 survive - 1231 1912 1959 ex-British Columbia Electric Railway

The fleet also includes an ex-Brussels La Brugeoise et Nivelles PCC-style streetcar, painted red and cream.

The line's operator, the Transit Museum Society, also owns a large fleet of vintage buses and trolley coaches.

2010 Olympic Line[edit]

Olympic Line near the Olympic Village Station

From January 21 to March 21, 2010,[6] a 1.8-kilometre (1.1 mi) free demonstration service called the "Olympic Line" (named for the 2010 Winter Olympics) ran every 6-minutes, 18-hours a day on the Downtown Historic Railway between Cambie Bridge and Granville Island,[6] using two modern Bombardier Flexity Outlook streetcars borrowed from the Brussels tram system.[7] The City of Vancouver and the administrators of Granville Island paid $8.5 million for associated upgrades to the infrastructure.

The City considered the streetcar demonstration "a tremendous success", with over 550,000 boardings during the two months of the experiment.[8] Bombardier received an award for "Exceptional Performance and Outstanding Achievement" at the 2010 CUTA awards, recognizing its operation of over 13,000 one-way trips with zero equipment failures, zero station delays and zero injuries.[9] Mayor Robertson has indicated a desire to continue operation of the line, with a potential extension to Main Street - Science World Station via False Creek South, but mentioned that the city alone lacks the millions of dollars needed to complete the construction and equipment purchases.[10] Nonetheless, a streetcar along the alignment used by the Olympic Line was part of two of the proposals for rapid transit running east-west through the city of Vancouver in 2020.[11]

Proposed future service[edit]

The proposal for a full-service modern streetcar line would extend the former heritage line through Chinatown and Gastown to Waterfront Station, and eventually to Stanley Park. There would be a separate line into Yaletown with longer-term potential for a number of other lines.

On October 13, 2014, Emily Jackson, writing in Metro Vancouver Newspaper, reported that Friends of the Olympic Line called on Vancouver City Council to commit $5 million to incorporate a refurbished line into Vancouver's transit authority.[12] The organization has called for the line to be extended to Main Street–Science World Station. The City has allocated $400,000 to decommission the line's former route.

The group has announced plans to make the expansion of the line an election issue.[13] News1130 asserted Mayor Gregor Robertson opposed restoration of the service during his last election.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ward, Doug (July 7, 1998). "Electric streetcar launches revival of historic service". The Vancouver Sun. 
  2. ^ Tramways & Urban Transit magazine, September 2011, p. 369. UK: LRTA Publishing.
  3. ^ Tramways & Urban Transit magazine, September 2012, p. 356. UK: LRTA Publishing.
  4. ^ "Downtown Historic Railway". 
  5. ^ Robinson, Matthew (March 23, 2014). "Vancouver's streetcar service a costly 'novelty' marred by problems: report". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  6. ^ a b "Vancouver's free streetcar makes first run to Granville Island". CBC News. January 21, 2010. Retrieved 2014-08-30. 
  7. ^ "Vancouver's 2010 Streetcar". Bombardier. Retrieved 2009-06-10. Connecting Granville Island, a key entertainment centre for the 2010 Winter Games, and the Olympic and Paralympic Village Vancouver, the Olympic Line streetcar service will extend Vancouver’s regional transit network along False Creek during 60 days of celebration before and during the 2010 Winter Games. 
  8. ^ "Olympic Line ridership". City of Vancouver. August 13, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  9. ^ "Bombardier Wins Award for the Olympic Line — Vancouver's 2010 Streetcar" (Press release). Benzinga. May 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  10. ^ Bailey, Ian (February 25, 2010). "Robertson Sees Momentum for Transit Funding". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  11. ^ "Rapid Transit Alternatives". Translink. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  12. ^ Emily Jackson (October 13, 2014). "Streetcar enthusiasts lobby Vancouver politicians for Olympic Line". Metro Vancouver Newspaper. Archived from the original on 2014-10-18. Retrieved 2014-10-17. The group called Friends of the Olympic Line is calling on politicians from all parties to commit $5 million to re-animate the line known as both the Downtown Historic Railway and the Olympic Line. 
  13. ^ Shannon Brennan, Martin MacMahon (October 14, 2014). "Municipal politicians urged to bring streetcars back to False Creek: A group wants it to be an election issue". News 1130. Archived from the original on 2014-10-18. Retrieved 2014-10-17. Mayor Gregor Robertson dismissed a similar idea in the last election, saying it would be too expensive. 

External links[edit]