UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sustainable road safety improvement through the promotion of an alternative mode : Okanagan Valley electric rail Boozarjomehri, Elham


Across North America there is an increasing demand for safer, faster, less energy intensive and less costly modes of transportation. There are enormous social and economic costs associated with road collisions, which have been recognized world-wide as a serious problem. One local alternative to reduce auto use and resultant road collisions is the placement of a railway line through the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, connecting Osoyoos and US railways in the south with Vernon and cross-Canada railways in the north. This line would not only be able to service Okanagan Valley commuters and tourists, currently served by Highway 97, but also provide an additional freight link between the United States and Canada. The objectives of this research were threefold: (1) To develop a set of macro-level collision prediction models for Highway 97, for use in calculating the Safety benefits of the proposed railway, (2) To conduct a comprehensive literature review of the design issues and costs of railway freight and passenger systems, and, (3) To conduct a social cost-benefit analysis of electric railways in Canada for a case study of the Okanagan Valley. To this end, a conceptual design, including route alignment, traffic forecast as well as a social benefit/cost analysis, was conducted. The paucity of data and studies for the Okanagan Valley regarding railway planning and engineering required several extrapolations from data reported in the literature. These estimates were made to gain insight into the data needed to conduct full scale analyses where gaps in knowledge exist, for the purpose of further research. The results of this research were in line with expectations. Regarding sustainable road safety, the development of macro-level collision prediction models for Highway 97 was successful. Regarding knowledge gaps, several were identified on traffic and cost data, and in freight forecast models. However, what was available allowed an order-of magnitude construction cost estimate of 990 million 2007 dollars for 176 kilometres of track. Moreover, if an electric railway began operating in 2050, the benefit/cost ratio of the project was estimated at 1.15, suggesting an Okanagan Valley railway warrants further research.

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