WHITE ROCK â€” Council and residents got a clearer picture of the steps needed in order to proceed with an official bid to have White Rockâ€™s rail line relocated from the waterfront.
In a presentation to council, rail expert and transportation consultant Mary Jane Bennett went into detail about what the city needs to do next if they intend to move forward with the relocation bid.
Likening the Railway Relocation and Crossing Act to an expropriation process, Bennett said that the rail operator in question, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, must not gain or lose financially from the relocation of the railway. The process must also occur at no net cost to the railway, and White Rock must obtain consent from all municipalities involved, meaning Surrey.
Looking at a 1987 case in Regina where it took five years for that to city have their relocation bid approved, Bennett said White Rockâ€™s case should be a less complicated matter.
â€œIt was five years until the agency gave green light for that to proceed and the first shovel in the ground was two years after that order,â€ said Bennett, noting Reginaâ€™s matter was complicated due to the relocation of a huge rail yard on top of two rail lines. â€œThis is just a line, so it is of a less complicated nature."
White Rock must now come to an agreement with Surrey and the provincial government before moving forward.
â€œTen years ago, two freight trains a day passed over the line; today twenty trains travel the line,â€ wrote Bennett in her report. â€œEvery means to enhance safetyâ€”including whistling, tunnels, speed reduction, pedestrian warning signals and fencingâ€”has failed. There have been 28 deaths and injuries on the tracks and nine significant mudslides. The lumber and cedar shingle shipments of years past have been replaced with shipments of dangerous goods like chlorine, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydrochloric acid and liquefied natural gas.
â€œAs long as the line bisects the White Rock community, the safety issues will not dissipate. Rail relocation is needed.â€