Originally Posted by go_leafs_go02
I heard a blurb somewhere that the BNSF was fencing the track through White Rock in order to block tourists from crossing it anywhere.
When that's complete, train speeds will rise along that segment.
What I'm curious about is whether or not White Rock or Surrey could essentially bar the railway access, and force BNSF to re-route somewhere through the ALR to the east of South Surrey.
How it is today is just idiotic, and there used to be a railline from Blaine directly to Cloverdale along 176 Street back in the 1920s.
It's kind of hard to tell a company, that's been doing business there for a hundred years, to abandon their privately owned property, at least without compensation, which White Rock could not afford. And the value of the land would be impossible to recoup because it's so narrow and right on the beach it can't be developed. It's worth a hundred times more as a railway than anything else. It's also a little short sighted to get rid of a profitable railway that helps drive the economy of the lower mainland year round, just so the area could be a tiny bit more tourist friendly the 2 months a year it's really popular there. Not only does the Amtrak now go through there 4 times a day, but there are at least that many freight trains daily as well.
The old ROW didn't really follow 176 street, because 176 street leaving the boarder is one giant ass hill. Trucks leaving the Pac crossing can barely do 40km/h up it. The old tracks used to curve eastward to go around the top of the hill and lessen the grade, which I imagine is now someone else's property. I also think the original reason for building the current ROW to replace the old one is that going around White Rock was actually faster (otherwise why do it). The cost and challenge of building it through White Rock (they had to blast/remove large portions of rock from the cliffs) was the only reason it wasn't through there originally. The entire route from the boarder to the Fraser River Crossing has almost no significant grade change, thus allows trains to operate faster and more efficiently.
I think they are putting up fences along the East end of the beach, close to the reserve. People cross the tracks there from the park to the beach, and there is no controlled access point, people just cross anywhere and everywhere.
I've actually see people stand on the track there taking pictures of the train approaching, not really realizing that the train was moving quite fast. The train had to blow it's emergency whistle to scare them away (and those things are deafening).
Along the popular part of the beach/boardwalk, access is a lot more controlled and very safe. There is a fence blocking direct access over the tracks, and there are a limited number of crossing points to get access from the parking lots to the beach and Boardwalk. And at the Pier, the crossing is actually controlled by a standard rail crossing signal. I hope they are extending that kind of principle to the rest of the beach. It would be a lot safer if there was one well built, marked path from the parking lot (at the WAG) to the beach.
But BNSF can't ban people from crossing the tracks, or else it would be impossible to get from the parking lots to most of the Boardwalk and the Famous White Rock Pier. But the fence that is there is pretty good. It doesn't look like much, but what it does is makes people think "I shouldn't stand on the tracks because this fence will keep me from jumping out of the way last minute and I'll be stuck".