Train whistles will continue through White Rock

Increased BNSF traffic through White Rock is a market-driven fact of life – and residents must understand the sound of train whistles are a necessary safety factor, according to BNSF

Increased BNSF traffic through White Rock is a market-driven fact of life – and residents must understand the sound of train whistles are a necessary safety factor.

That’s the word from the railway’s corporate communications representative, Gus Melonas.

Melonas said this week that the railway is doing everything it can to minimize the noise in the community through upgraded tracks, equipment and rolling stock, but “when it comes to safety, you can’t take shortcuts.”

That’s particularly top-of-mind, he said, after a spate of trespasser fatalities on BNSF lines “between the border and Tacoma” over the previous week.

“We had four trespassers hit – and three fatalities – in the last eight days,” Melonas said. “The last thing we want to face is striking somebody. The main warning device is the whistle on the train – and the whistle is intended to be heard.”

Melonas was responding to a letter from Victoria Avenue resident Floyd Stanley in Peace Arch News’ Aug. 16 edition, in which Stanley charged there has been a significant increase in the number of trains – and train noise – through White Rock since 12 years ago.

Stanley, a retired school principal from Ontario, said that when he and his wife first came to White Rock, he considered the trains “unique and not a nuisance as there were only, on average, six trains a day passing through.” Now, he said there are up to 16 trains a day.

Stanley said they’ve had to shorten their twice-daily promenade walks, and noted whistles awaken them at all hours of the night.

But Melonas said the volume of traffic varies according to customer demand for transporting goods.

“We’re averaging 12 to 15 trains, but every day is different,” he said. “Sometimes it’s as low as nine, while other days it’s up to 15 or 16.”

Based on projections, demand for train movement of goods will increase, Melonas acknowledged, but noted there are cost,  efficiency and environmental advantages over other methods of transportation.

With an average engine age of eight to nine years, the railway is working with more regularly upgraded equipment than most airlines or trucking fleets, he said.

“Each train that goes through White Rock takes an average of 300 trucks off the highway,” he said. “And we’ve not had one haz-mat fatality since 1981 – not one. We’re proud of our safety record.”

Melonas disputed Stanley’s claim that BNSF traffic has increased significantly due to contracts to move coal from B.C. interior to the Delta Port facility.

“The large majority is mixed freight, or general merchandise – everything from lumber and agricultural products to sugar and other sweeteners,” Melonas said.

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

Just Posted

Sunny skies expected across Lower Mainland this week

After weeks of rain and smoke, Environment Canada forecasts clear skies and steady warm temperatures

Senior White Rock election worker not concerned about safety at the polls

‘Casting your vote will be like getting a take out coffee,’ says Elections BC CEO

Surrey’s Johnston Heights reporting COVID-19 exposure

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

White Rock exhibit designed to ignite passion for the arts

Surrey Artswest Showcase to include semi-private lessons

Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Margaret Cuthbert

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

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

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Most Read