One of four slides spotted on the BNSF tracks between Ocean Park and Crescent Beach Wednesday morning.

One of four slides spotted on the BNSF tracks between Ocean Park and Crescent Beach Wednesday morning.

Hillside slides disrupt trains in South Surrey, White Rock

Early-morning landslides across South Surrey tracks trigger 48-hour suspension of passenger-train service between Vancouver and Seattle.

An early-morning landslide across South Surrey tracks has prompted BNSF Railway to block passenger-train service between Vancouver and Seattle until Friday.

BNSF spokesperson Gus Melonas told Peace Arch News Wednesday that inclement weather is to blame for a slide that sent debris and tree limbs down a 100-foot slope just after 6 a.m. It resulted in a pile five feet high and 20 feet wide across the rail line, Melonas said.

South Surrey slide

The slide occurred “four miles north of White Rock… between White Rock and Crescent Beach,” he said.

“Until 6:12 a.m. (Friday), per BNSF guidelines… we will not allow Amtrak to run over those tracks.”

Freight operations, however, resumed around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

South Surrey resident Erik Seiz told PAN he came across the debris during a morning walk between Crescent Beach and Ocean Park. He counted evidence of four separate slides – two of which resulted in debris across the track – and said the occurrences support exploring alternative routes.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the idea of funding a study to at least look at an alternate path… is the responsible thing to do,” Seiz said. “The idea of spending money on this is obviously not absurd.”

Melonas said Wednesday’s slide was among three that occurred along 1½ miles of the South Surrey line between 3 and 6 a.m.; only one triggered the Amtrak moratorium.

It was less severe than others that have hit along the corridor south of the border, he added, noting there have been fewer than five such “blocking events” in this area in the past three years.

Inspectors and investigators are continuing to monitor operations in the area of Wednesday’s slide, he said.

A notice on Amtrak’s website notes the company is providing alternate transportation until service resumes. For more information, visit amtrak.com