LETTERS: Perspectives on rail dangers

Re: Silencing train whistles to cost $1.8m, Jan. 28; Silencing whistles not a solution, Feb. 13 letters.


To Surrey and White Rock councils and MP Russ Hiebert, I request an independent study regarding moving the BNSF tracks.

This study would look at the number of people whose lives are endangered by BNSF trains carrying lethal and explosive materials along the shores of Surrey, Crescent Beach, Ocean Park and White Rock – versus the monetary cost and the cost in agricultural land, if the BNSF tracks were moved inland.

The study would include:

• The numbers of people who have homes and businesses next to, and on the hills adjoining, the tracks.

• An estimate of the numbers of people who use this popular area for recreation, especially on weekends and holidays.

On Feb. 13, the federal government set aside $14 billion for infrastructure. What share of costs would be covered by the three governments versus the BNSF?

BNSF might well wish to move tracks and trains to a safer area for economic reasons.

There are large numbers of explosive and lethal materials being carried daily on these tracks by inadequate and older tankers that can leak and explode like a bomb on impact – endangering many lives. The resultant fire balls will ignite the cedar and maple stands adjacent to the tracks, again endangering people and homes.

Track and tanker structures will be compromised by increasing sea-storm surges. Compromised tracks base will increase with rising oceans and cliff slides with loss of land base.

The speed, weight and frequency of trains increases the likelihood of an accident by weakening the understructure of the tracks. The two trestles over the Nicomekl and Little Campbell rivers are also vulnerable.

There is a high probability, in this century, of a greater than 9.0-magnitude earthquake, causing a tsunami surge and ground liquefaction at sea level. This will increase the danger of explosions and leaks from tankers.

These BNSF problems point to the terrible dangers and anxieties that we – its neighbours – face daily. The Lac Mégantic train disaster, which killed 47 people and ruined a community, reminds that we are vulnerable.

Margot Thomson, Surrey

• • •

Re: Silencing train whistles to cost $1.8m, Jan. 28.

Help me out. Why do people move in next to a rail line and then complain about noise of the trains?

These trains are not new; they have been coming down those rails since the early 1900s, so surely when you bought your water view house you noticed the tracks.

And before anyone raises the point of increased rail traffic since you moved here, yes it has increased. That’s the sign of a strong economy.

Car traffic has also increased. More people live here. It’s changing!

And yes, I do live near enough to hear the trains.

As to rail safety, when I was five, my mom taught me to look both ways before crossing the street. I took that to its logical extension and included railway tracks when I cross them on foot or in my car.

As to people walking on railway tracks? Well you cannot legislate common sense, and $1.8 million dollars of taxpayers’ funds won’t help.

Here’s the deal; times change, economies grow, commodities are shipped. Conductors blow the whistle to warn you they are coming.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility, so let’s stop pointing fingers.

Steven Hughes, White Rock

• • •

Re: Silencing whistles not a solution, Feb. 13 letters.

I fully agree with letter-writer Donna Passmore regarding the sound of the trains and their whistles. The tracks were there, so we all know that trains run back and forth on them. So why move into White Rock and then complain about the trains? I like to hear them and like to hear the whistle.

Another complaint is crossing the tracks to get to the beach. Well, that is simple. If you cross a road, no matter at a crosswalk or not, you would always look one way and then the other, before you take a step out.

So let’s use a little sense; then the trains would not have to whistle so often. Right?

R. Kile, Surrey



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