The “Electric Express” is returning.
Heritage Rail’s unique Christmas train is set to pull out of Cloverdale Station Dec. 10 and 11.
Allen Aubert, secretary of the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society (FVHRS), said the annual event always takes the theme of Christmas in Cloverdale as it was 100 years ago.
“We are already receiving requests by eager railway fans to book for our exciting Christmas (train),” said Aubert.
The online-only tickets are now available at fvhrs.org. There will be four trains on Saturday and four on Sunday, with 50 tickets available for each train.
“The Electric Express has become a community ‘must attend’ heritage railway event,” added Aubert. “(It) takes place entirely at our Cloverdale campus and on our rail spur line. The Christmas event is unique in several ways.”
For the event, Cloverdale Station, the train, and the car barn will all be transformed with Christmas charm from 1922. Train-goers will even be able to visit Father Christmas’s workshop and the station and train will be “beautifully decorated,” notes Aubert.
“There are live theatrical characters at the station, on the train, and in Father Christmas’s workshop,” he said. “There will be Christmas music too, with live performers.”
Unlike their recent Halloween train, the Christmas train does not go on a single long trip. There are two rides on the half-mile spur with theatrical performances aboard the train as the Electric Express ventures to Father Christmas’s workshop and eventually back to Coverdale Station.
“The one hour event is a fun experience for all ages and sets the scene for Christmas a few weeks later,” explained Aubert. “The main feature for the younger visitors is to climb aboard the train and head off to meet Father Christmas and his elves in the workshop where the Christmas toys are created.”
Aubert said following the Christmas event in early December, FVHRS will immediately start prepping for 2023 as volunteers will begin restoration and maintenance work to prep for their May 2023 opening.
He also said FVHRS is planning several new events for next season.
“We are looking forward to our third interurban BCER 1231 coming into operation following a multi-year full restoration,” Aubert explained. “BCER 1231 will be part of our first two-car series connected with BCER 1225, its sister car, providing an opportunity for additional visitors to ride the rails again.”
FVHRS expanded its train platform at Cloverdale Station early in 2022 to accommodate the second train and the increased visitor numbers that train will bring.
“Of course the Connaught interurban BCER 1304 will be back next season too on special occasions.”
He added plans are also underway to reach out to local businesses during next season for the first time as the society will be offering their second car for business functions.
According to Aubert, senior’s groups and others will also have an opportunity to reserve the use of the second train. And he said more information about the hows and whats of booking that second train will be released on their website soon.
“Bringing the two-car consist into service next season is both a challenge and a wonderful opportunity.”
He noted they’ll be bringing special field trips back next year for school kids after a two-year COVID pause. School field trips are offered on Mondays and Fridays. Field trips can also be booked on their website.
“Next season we anticipate a return of the senior’s groups who thoroughly enjoy a trip down memory lane,” said Aubert. “We are always delighted when some of the visitors tell us stories of their riding the interurban way back.”
The Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society has about 350 members and about 90 station-side volunteers. FVHRS operates the railway out of the Cloverdale Station and the restoration Car Barn at Hwy 10 and 176A Street, in Surrey.