A trestle bridge at Crescent Beach in White Rock.

MPs suggest $35m rail underpass at South Surrey’s Crescent Beach

Rail committee urges Transport Canada to demand real-time notification of dangerous goods

Relocating the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway could cost hundreds of millions of dollars or more, but an underpass in Crescent Beach could cost just $35 million, according to a House of Commons standing committee report adopted this week.

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities made a series of recommendations on rail safety, and urged Transport Canada to require rail companies to provide real-time knowledge of dangerous goods to first responders, and develop an advanced notification system developed in consultation with communities.

The committee studied the safety of the section of the BNSF line that runs from the U.S. border through South Surrey and White Rock, as well as the Lac-Mégantic rail accident in Quebec in 2013.

A City of White Rock representative called on the federal government to confirm the section of track that runs along Crescent Beach and Ocean Park complies with the Railway Safety Act, to investigate the stoppage of the trains that block access to Crescent Beach, to change grade-crossing rules that sanction the current situation and to support the relocation of the railway pursuant to the Railway Relocation and Crossing Act.

The line along the beach in South Surrey has been running since 1909, and there’s been a dramatic increase in rail traffic, including the volume of dangerous goods being transported, and the length of the trains, the committee was told.

Concerns were raised about the stability of the terrain under the rails, with particular concern about trains that stand in urban crossings for long periods, blocking access for residents and first responders.

Relocating the line would be “very, very expensive,” a BNSF Railway representative testified to the committee, suggesting a cheaper alternative might include building an underpass, which would cost $35 million or more.

A Canadian Transportation Agency representative said that a rail relocation could cost hundreds of millions of dollars or more and that no applications under the Rail Crossing and Relocation Act have been made since 1987. Applicants must also meet a financial condition that a relocation or rerouting occurs at “no net cost” to the railway company.

The committee recommended that Transport Canada immediately pursue legislative and/or regulatory structures to ensure first responders are notified about dangerous goods via cellular or Internet services, and that other means of communication be studied to provide advanced notification in communities outside cellular range.

The committee also recommended Transport Canada:

• require rail companies to implement long-term plans to mitigate environmental impacts, including ongoing destabilization of slopes, mudslides, flooding, extreme weather conditions and floodplain issues;

• undertake frequent, interactive and publicly visible inspections of railway operations in communities where they have been major incidents to mitigate ongoing fears;

• require effective signage at unmarked passive railway crossings that have been identified as most dangerous, and that the cost “not be place upon local government or ratepayers.”

Ottawa was also asked to accelerate a five-year statutory review of the Railway Safety Act prior to 2018.

 

Just Posted

Missing Surrey woman found dead

IHIT asking for public’s assistance

Surrey RCMP need help finding missing 41-year-old man

Todd Schneider was last seen at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 19 in the 13500-block of Crestview Drive

New West mayor says Surrey won’t be left out in transit 10-year plan

Jonathan Cote one of two speakers at luncheon focusing on transportation, land use planning

UPDATE: Missing Surrey snowshoer found dead on Mt. Seymour

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside North Delta elementary school

The officer was intervening in an alleged assault outside of Immaculate Conception School when he and the woman were stabbed

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

5 to start your day

Two people are in critical condition after stabbing, searchers recover body of missing snowshoer and more

‘A little baloney’ in PM’s claim about solicitor-client privilege on SNC-Lavalin

The Conservatives and NDP want Trudeau to waive that privilege so Wilson-Raybould can offer her side of the story

Proposed edible pot rules are wasteful, would leave products tasteless: critics

When Canada legalized weed last fall, it only allowed fresh or dried bud, oil, plants and seeds

Samsung folding phone is different – but also almost $2,000

But most analysts see a limited market for foldable-screen phones

Alcohol policies fizzle for Canadian governments as harms overflow: reports

About 80 per cent of Canadians drink, and most enjoy a drink or two

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Most Read