Surrey’s Heritage Rail on track for public rides starting Saturday

Restored interurban 1225 now has some company in car barn off Highway 10

John Sprung

John Sprung

CLOVERDALE — The so-called 1225 is tuned up, polished and ready to roll out of the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society car barn.

This year, however, the century-old BC Electric interurban car has some company inside the busy repair shop, located on 176A Street, off Highway 10.

The workhorse 1225, long ago restored by members of the heritage society, will begin its summer of Cloverdale-to-Sullivan runs this Saturday, May 7.

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Meanwhile, volunteers are working on two other interurban cars they hope will be in service for the 2017 season of Surrey’s Heritage Rail.

“We’re getting there with the 1207, which arrived here from Vancouver in January in relatively good shape, and the 1304 needs a bit more work,” Ray Hudson, a director with the society, told the Now on Tuesday.

During the 2010 Winter Olympics, the 1207 was one of two vehicles operated by the Downtown Heritage Rail (in Vancouver). The 1304 made its way to Cloverdale with the distinction of being the last interurban to make the run through Cloverdale to Chilliwack before the BCER shut down.

With a growing fleet of generator-powered rail cars, these are exciting times for those who run the popular heritage attraction.

In its three seasons of service, the 1225 has carried close to 20,000 passengers, and the society’s goal is to hit 10,000 rides this year alone. On weekends only, the rail car departs the station five times a day for the 50-minute return trip, starting at 10 a.m.

Impressively, a small army of 120 volunteers makes it all happen.

“We have no paid staff,” said John Sprung, chair of the society. “For me, it’s nice to see all these people working together to achieve a goal, which has been going on for 20 years.”

Sprung and Hudson talk about a family of volunteers that travels here from Washington State, and others from places like Chilliwack, Mission and North Van.

“Our youngest volunteer is 12 years old, and our youngest train driver is 18, going on 19,” Hudson said.

“It’s a big organization,” Sprung added.

“We’re always looking for new people to help.”

This summer, a fundraising initiative will be launched to help renovate the 1304, the acquisition of which has strained the group’s $65,000 operating budget.

Those who run Surrey’s Heritage Rail, as it’s been known since a rebranding move in 2015, have big plans for the attraction.

“When we have two cars running,” Hudson said, “eventually we’d like to have another station like this in Newton. That way, we could run a car from each end, back and forth, to Sullivan.”

Currently, the station in Cloverdale houses a museum, a simulator and other amenities. Outside, a “Speeder” track-inspection vehicle and a smaller rail velocipede are used to transport paying customers.

For ticket info and other details about Surrey’s Heritage Rail, visit Fvhrs.org.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com