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Surrey should take ‘good hard look’ at running hydrogen passenger trains to Chilliwack

Township of Langley pushing for hydrogen-powered public transit between Pattullo Bridge and Chilliwack
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A Surrey city councillor says this city should take a “good hard look” at the Township of Langley’s push for the reactivation of the interurban rail corridor to run hydrogen-powered public transit between the Pattullo Bridge and Chilliwack.

“I personally think we need to be exploring every option of transit,” Coun. Linda Annis told the Now Leader on Thursday. “Right now you just need to go to our freeways and we’re gridlocked and, you know, we need to find alternative ways. We don’t have enough transit throughout Surrey so I think we really need to explore every option possible and I think this one certainly deserves looking at very seriously.

“We should have a really good hard look at it, not leave any opportunity unexplored,” she said.

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke said while council “will always be supportive” of additional transit for Surrey, the city’s “first priority is the plan put forward by the Mayors’ Council, and getting shovels in the ground for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension.”

READ ALSO: Poll says 88% of South Fraser adults want passenger trains between Surrey, Chilliwack

The Township of Langley council has unanimously endorsed a resolution to this end, to be presented to the Union of BC Municipalities’ annual general meeting this September in Vancouver.

The text of the resolution noted that communities south of the Fraser River – including Surrey, Delta, the Langleys, Abbotsford and Chilliwack – have a combined population surpassing 1.2 million people and pressure on their existing transit routes, and on Highway 1, is growing with no relief in sight.

The B.C. Electric Inter-Urban Railway, with passenger service between New Westminster and Chilliwack, opened on Nov. 6, 1910 and its first stop in Surrey after New Westminster was at Liverpool Road, followed by South Westminster, Scott Road, Kennedy, Craig, Hunt Road, Kings, Newton, Hyland, Sullivan, McClellan, Meridian, Cloverdale, Hall’s Prairie and then Anderson before heading into Langley and beyond.

The B.C Electric carried passengers until 1950, when buses took over.

The campaign to resurrect the corridor for public transit is not new. In 2021 a poll conducted by Research Co. on behalf of the South Fraser Community Rail Project noted that 88 per cent of survey respondents were in favour of running hydrogen-powered passenger trains providing daily service between Surrey and Chilliwack.

As for the breakdown, 83 per cent of respondents in North Surrey, 85 per cent in North Delta, 82 per cent in the Township of Langley, 76 per cent in the City of Langley, 93 per cent in Abbotsford and 89 per cent in Chilliwack gave the concept a thumb’s up.

Rick Green, president of the South Fraser Community Rail Society, and mayor of the Township of Langley from 2008 to 2011, says the community campaign goes back about two decades.

It received a cool reception from some quarters in 2009, he recalled, “because nobody was interested in putting diesel trains up the valley in those days.

“But once hydrogen because a viable enterprise in 2017, that’s what started up our campaign and it hasn’t stopped since. We’ve made some significant, significant inroads, I think we’ve opened the eyes up of a lot of people.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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