Surrey: Concerned with the threat to public safety posed by increased rail traffic through South Surrey, Mayoral candidate Linda Hepner has pledged to work to move the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line to a route that does not cut off the community of Crescent Beach.
“Public safety is my number one priority, and Surrey First has long had concerns about rail safety in our community,” Hepner said. “If elected Mayor, I will act immediately to engage BNSF in discussions to have their rail line moved away from the coastline to a more direct, faster and safer inland route. If we cannot come to a mutual agreement, I and the Surrey First team will work with White Rock to use the powers of the Railway Relocation and Crossing Act to move a solution forward.”
Currently, 16-20 trains per day pass through Surrey on the BNSF railway, which will increase by 320 trains a year due to the Fraser Surrey Docks coal expansion. The coal transportation project will bring approximately 4,000,000 metric tonnes of coal through Surrey along a route that has suffered multiple slope failures and one derailment. Each coal train will be approximately 135 cars long, or 7,500 feet, long enough to cut off both Crescent Road and McBride Avenue, the only two access points for the community of Crescent Beach.
“Crescent Beach and its 1,200 residents are entirely cut off from the rest of Surrey when the BNSF train comes through, including from emergency services and evacuation routes,” notes City Councilor Judy Villeneuve. As a long-time resident of Crescent Beach I share the feeling that the increased train traffic is an unacceptable risk to Surrey residents.”
Councillors Linda Hepner and Judy Villeneuve are part of the Surrey First slate, originally formed by Mayor Dianne Watts. With Mayor Watts’ announcement that she will not be seeking to run for re-election, Surrey First chose Linda Hepner as its Mayoral candidate. Judy Villeneuve is running for re-election to council, along with incumbents Bruce Hayne, Tom Gill, Mary Martin and Barbara Steele. Retired fighter Mike Starchuk, former RCMP Staff Sergeant Dave Woods and credit union leader Vera Lanfranc are the first-time council candidates for Surrey First.