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National Train Day

While driving across BC this last week, one things that stands out in my mind is the removal of rails. Sure, in some corridors there are rails on both sides of the river; but in others, all that is left is the rail grade and a walking trail to commemorate an old mode of transportation.

I recently came across this celebration of all things Rail, (if you’re in the States, its on May 10th. 2008)…

Home | National Train Day

The first-ever National Train Day is on its way, and there’s never been a better time to celebrate. With passenger ridership growing every year, more and more people recognize that trains are the best way to relax and enjoy the ride. To read, talk, work or snooze the time away. Which makes traveling by train the nicer way to get there.

From Amtrak’s perspective, there’s never been a better time to get on a train to travel across the country, which is a view in stark contrast to that of the automobile powered society we inhabit.

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Canadian Train Day?

Canada doesn’t have a day to commemorate trains, but just like America, Canada was built on the backbone of a transcontinental railway network. Until the end of WWII, the train was the main mode of long distance travel in Canada. These railways today provide almost no passenger travel, but exist solely to transport goods to factories and major cities. The main passenger network is run by ViaRail, who’s network is shown below:

The days of short route trains may return one day. In my area, is would be possible to run a passenger train from Nelson to Trail via Castlegar on existing tracks. Currently these tracks are only used for freight – so with some investment into new stations, carriages and efficient locomotives, this route has the potential to revive rail travel outside of the large cities.

With the rising cost of gas and car travel, an efficient train network is not out of the question.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.