This research examined the freight demand forecast for a new short railway linking the Okanagan Valley in southern British Columbia to American railways in the South (Orville), and to Canadian railways in the North (Kamloops). An Origin-Destination (O-D) table including local, domestic and international demands for the Okanagan freight rail was developed based on available surveys and observed truck freight data. In the absence of data to derive utility functions, the current mode share for each commodity in the base year as well as current elasticities between truck and rail was used to forecast the mode share in the future year. Rail assignment techniques are among the forgotten problems of freight demand forecasting due to their complexities, including: 1) written and unwritten practices of the rail industry, and 2) cost functions that are classically employed in truck or auto assignments. In this study, a comprehensive review was conducted on the rail freight demand assignment techniques. A new assignment procedure was introduced by combining the available mathematical choice models and new initiatives of the Canadian government toward rail industry. Finally, the predicted share of freight rail was assigned to the rail network using three methods, which provided three independent freight demand forecasts. The mid-range forecast was selected as the freight demand for the Okanagan Valley while two others (low/high) were used for sensitivity analysis.

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