Ron Powers of the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society waves from inside the society’s latest acquisition

Surrey’s heritage railway adds third Interurban to its fleet

Vancouver's loss is Surrey's gain as historic BCER 1207 makes the move to Cloverdale

A century-old Interurban railcar has found a new home in Cloverdale, where the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society welcomed the new arrival early last Thursday morning.

The 110-year-old car was transported by road from Vancouver to Surrey in the middle of the night.

It was loaded onto a flat-deck trailer at False Creek at around 2 a.m. Jan. 28 and arrived safely at the FVHRS’s car barn at 176 Street and Highway 10 at 3 a.m.

“It went extremely well,” Ray Hudson, communications director for the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society, said of the historic move.

It was owned by Bryon and Diane Cole of Seattle, who had leased it to the City of Vancouver. They’ve donated it to the FVHRS, and were on hand during the transfer.

The car was built in New Westminster in 1905, and was part of the B.C. Electric Railway, a passenger and freight service that operated to the early 1950s, shuttling commuters and goods from Vancouver to Steveston, New Westminster and the Fraser Valley, where the line ran as far east as Chilliwack.

For most of its life, old Car 1207 ran on the Marpole-Steveston line, a route fondly known as the “Sockeye Express” because many of the commuters were cannery workers.

The Reporter was invited to take one of the first looks inside 1207 last week, just hours after its arrival.

It’s in beautiful condition, boasting polished brass fittings and grained wood, along with two working engines. The seating capacity is 32 regular seats and 24 seats in the smoking section. The 19th century style roof features windows that open.

“Nice car,” observed society member Gary Rideout as he stepped inside the 1905 Interurban for the first time Friday morning.

“Ain’t she a beaut?” agreed Hudson.

In 1998, the car was brought out of 40 years’ retirement in Vancouver where it was one of two former B.C. Electric Railway Interurbans used for a seasonal heritage street car line along the south side of False Creek, linking Science World and Granville Island until the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The City of Vancouver eventually shut the service down.

At the time, Vancouver City Coun. Geoff Meggs described the heritage rail line as “a novelty, a really beautiful and wonderful one,” according to Metro News.

Car 1207 was in storage, out of sight, while a new home was sought.

[Seattle’s Diane and Bryon Cole owned BCER Interurban Car 1207 and helped oversee last week’s move to Cloverdale. – Ray Hudson photo]

“We made it quite clear that we wanted it,” Hudson said.

In Cloverdale, the volunteer railway plans to press it into service this spring, joining BCER 1225 – restored here several years ago to working condition after thousands of hours of labour – at Surrey’s heritage rail operations.

“It’s going to look like a million bucks,” said society director Ron Powers.

The society is also working to complete restorations on Car 1304, the last Interurban to make the run through Cloverdale to Chilliwack before the electric railway shut down.

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“Moving History” – Larry Smith

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