Efforts by elected officials to examine relocating the Peninsula’s train tracks from the waterfront get mixed reviews.

Efforts by elected officials to examine relocating the Peninsula’s train tracks from the waterfront get mixed reviews.

LETTERS: Rail route


Re: Moving tracks ‘does little for Surrey’, Oct. 23.


Re: Moving tracks ‘does little for Surrey’, Oct. 23.

Way before any houses were built along the waterfront of White Rock, the railway company established a track running from Vancouver down along the southern coast of B.C. and into the U.S.

A station was erected and White Rock became an established stop along the route. People built houses along the hillside, knowing the train – whistle and all – would run by.

When you look at old pictures, you see that there are no houses on the hillside above the train tracks. Now, it is chock-a-block full of houses, townhouses, condos and cabins all vying for the best view of the ocean.

So why are we crying about a concrete fact like a railway track that was laid down before we came into the picture? We are like the folks who raced to build houses near the airport and then screamed foul about the noise of the aircraft overhead.

Now we are demanding that billions of dollars, taxpayers’ dollars, be spent so we don’t have to listen to a train whistle. Hello!

If the track is moved, where should it be relaid? In your backyard? Down the middle of the freeway? In your neighbour’s backyard? Underground?

The populace of this area long decries the lack of suitable venues for a railroad track to be laid that does not interfere with anyone’s life.

Maybe it’s time for this ‘selfie’ world to realize that there are more important issues in life than catering to our latest whims.

James Milne, White Rock

• • •

Rail relocation is not just about Crescent Beach and White Rock.

If the most obvious option for the new route is chosen – along the Highway 99 right-of-way – the realigned track will be five kilometres shorter and train travel time will be 30 minutes quicker. Less fuel, less time, less waste.

The economic benefits of this shorter, faster rail route with its additional capacity are overwhelming. There is no doubt that BNSF will be a willing partner.

This is a ‘win’ for Port Metro Vancouver, as well. Containers are going to move between China and U.S./Canada. The question is whether these transfers occur at a U.S. port or at Deltaport. A north-south rail superhighway improves access to the U.S. market, allowing PMV to secure its future as the key handler of lucrative container traffic. A shorter, faster, twin-tracked route will not only be safer for BNSF and the surrounding communities, it will give a return on investment. It will support expansion of Canada-U.S. trade. It will complement PMV’s investment in Roberts Bank and secure Canada’s economic relevance for the next 100 years.

This is a ‘win’ for all Canadians.

At a time when the newly elected Liberal government is looking at improving infrastructure, relocating the BNSF line is a clever strategic initiative. In fact, it’s integral to securing the future relevance of our ports which benefits all of us in the Lower Mainland, the whole province and the rest of Canada.

H. Newman, White Rock

• • •

Your news item brings to the forefront the obvious lack of railway transportation knowledge the mayors of Surrey, White Rock and the MP-designate, Dianne Watts, have on this important subject.

The rail line in question is the railway’s main link between Canada and the U.S. and serves as both a major import and export route.

Burlington Northern recently spent several millions of dollars for major safety upgrading the rail line on both sides of the border and would not have done this with any expectation of moving it in the near future.

Of note is that the Canadian Transportation Authority cited in the article has no legal authority to order a railway to move its operations. Any railway line relocation has to be a joint agreement between the outside parties and the railway involved.

While everyone points at the Lac-Mégantic incident as a cause for fearmongering and the basis for relocation, it should be noted that until that incident, there had not been a major derailment involving regulated commodities that involved a civilian death in Canada.

Lac-Mégantic was not a result of a train in operation derailing but a series of human-related activities that culminated in a parked train rolling away. That scenario could never happen in the White Rock area.

White Rock and Surrey are not unique. Trains operate safely through thousands of major cities and rural towns every day. Vancouver itself has four major railways crisscrossing every part of the Lower Mainland with the same commodities.

The facts are clear that moving any product by rail is not only more environmentally efficient but also the safest mode. The movement by rail of these regulated commodities, which are essential to our daily lives, far surpasses having them on our highways and city streets.

Then comes the fact that both municipalities are proposing spending $700,000 taxpayer dollars on a study that will bear no fruit.

BNSF has been gracious enough to allow the City of White Rock to use its land and have walking paths and beach access. It might be legally wiser for them to cancel those leases and allow no public access, thereby increasing safety and reducing the risk of public/railway incidents.

In addition, simply relocating a line into someone else’s neighbourhood is an insult to each and every taxpayer in these respective communities.

Both communities should question the true underlying motive for this push to relocate the rail line.

Stephen Morris, Surrey

• • •

The best 15 kilometres of land in Canada lies along Surrey’s untouched foreshore between White Rock and Crescent Beach. It has the best weather, south exposure and views of the Gulf Islands and Mount Baker.

Few people have seen it because the railway prevents them access.

The Boundary Bay foreshore is the backyard to everyone living south of the Fraser River. Unlocking this national treasure is a benefit to us all, including those who should not have to drive to Stanley Park or the islands to have a world-class seaside escape.

Moving the track will connect the bay beaches to the Delta dyke, allowing a currently isolated ocean playground to be easily accessed. After completion of the new Massey bridge, Richmond, New Westminster, and Vancouver will also be part of this enhanced recreational system. Working together, B.C. will then have created an iconic green corridor from downtown Vancouver to the border, which will have a lasting positive lifestyle and economic benefit for the whole province.

Relocating the track will make life better for everyone. If better is possible, why would we not try exploring that option?

Erik Seiz, Surrey