Regimented White Rock train-whistles silenced 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Interpretation differences for 'dawn to dusk' blamed for repeated horn blasts waking Peninsula residents

White Rock residents should be able to sleep a little better, following a Transport Canada order to BNSF that effectively reinstates an overnight ‘quiet zone’ along the waterfront rail line.

According to an order issued Wednesday by safety inspector Dennis Maskell, trains must sound a “repetitive succession of short horn blasts” from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. while travelling between East and West Beach.

Outside of those hours, “normal BNSF whistling protocol as per their current timetable and bulletins remains in effect,” the order states.

Train whistles have long been a source of contention in the community. The issue’s intensity ramped up early last month, after Transport Canada ordered BNSF to ensure the horn blasts were sounded from one end of the waterfront line to the other, “from dawn until dusk.”

Thursday, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas told Peace Arch News that the “dawn to dusk” reference “led to interpretation differences” by train crews – and an influx of calls from residents complaining about excessive overnight whistling.

Wednesday’s order provides clarity, Melonas said.

“Now, the order has been defined. If there are not dangerous situations at night, our crews are to abide by the requirement that’s ordered from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“The matter is being communicated immediately. Hopefully… we can minimize some of the concern.”

The initial order was issued June 6 along with two others – one specifically to the City of White Rock, and one asking the city and BNSF to jointly come up with a strategy to curb trespassing along the tracks at the western end of Bayview Park, at the Finlay Street crossing and at the foot of the Coldicutt Ravine stairs.

Fencing that was identified for the latter two areas raised burial-site concerns for the Semiahmoo First Nation, which asked Transport Canada and BNSF to put that work on hold pending an archaeological assessment.

All of the Transport Canada orders cite “an immediate threat to safe railway operations.”

Concerns with the overnight whistling were raised by many residents who attended the city-hosted “community dialogue” on rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods Monday. One woman said the train noise is “wrecking my life.” Another said she hadn’t slept for more than four or five hours a night since the overnight whistling began.

Melonas said standard protocol remains in place, dictating use of the whistle at any time of day if there is an emergency or dangerous situation on the track remains in place.

“There will be times where the whistle is required if there is a dangerous situation beyond this time period,” he said, citing maintenance work and inspections as well as the “major problem” of late-night trespassing.

“It is a regular occurrence for people to be on the tracks during these hours.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Staff members at Surrey Pretrial test positive for COVID-19

Ministry of Public Safety says employees tested positive between Oct. 18 and 23

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)
‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

A new 23-storey condo development – which might also house a new White Rock city hall space – is proposed for the current site of 3 Dogs Brewing on Johnston Road, and will be discussed by the Land Use and Planning committee on Oct. 26. (File photo)
Civic centre could be part of new 23-storey White Rock condo tower

Development proposal to be discussed Oct. 26 by council’s land use committee

(Image: CDC)
Fraser Health orders Surrey food-processing facility to close amid COVID-19 outbreak

Staff member at Surrey long-term care facility also tests positive for the virus

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Most Read