Erosion of the railroad bed through South Surrey – photographed by Cloverdale resident Udo Zirkwitz – has not undermined the safety of the tracks

Rail safety not compromised by erosion: BNSF

Photographs highlight storm damage alongside South Surrey train tracks

Recent storms that battered the South Surrey/White Rock waterfront have at least one area resident questioning the impact of erosion seen alongside the railway line.

But BNSF officials say while steps have been taken in the weeks since to stabilize the road bed, safety along the tracks has not been compromised.

“There were no safety issues caused by the actual storm, these were proactive moves,” Gus Melonas, spokesman for the railway, said Monday of riprap and ballast dumped as recently as last week to shore up the railbed.

However, Cloverdale resident Udo Zirkwitz – who told Peace Arch News he took photos of erosion as recently as Monday – said he has seen no sign of any shoring-up efforts.

Erosion he’s seen, however, appears significant. In one area immediately south of the overhead pedestrian crossing, a stretch of the right-of-way is sheared off to within a few feet of the railway tracks.

The damage, Zirkwitz notes in an email, is due to the storms – the latest hit March 10 – in combination with high tides.

In a April 13 email to Zirkwitz and PAN, BNSF community-affairs manager Ben Wilemon said he has forwarded Zirkwitz’s photos to the railway’s engineering and structures team for investigation.

Melonas said Thursday that the tracks are inspected every day, and after the latest storm were deemed safe.

In the earlier interview he noted BNSF has technology in place to detect any shifting of the track or issues with railbed stabilization.

In White Rock, 15 cars of riprap were dumped three weeks ago, he said. Another 15 carloads of the boulders, along with four cars of ballast, were dumped last week along the tracks two miles north, he added.

“We’ll continue to identify areas where there has been some undermining… to shore up where erosion has occurred due to the storms,” Melonas said. “If it wasn’t safe, we wouldn’t operate trains.”

According to an April 13 CBC report on high-risk crossings in Canada, a list created based on risk factors identified in 2014 by Transport Canada does not name any rail crossings – pedestrian or vehicle – on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.


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