Heritage Rail is reopening after being closed for nearly two years.
John Sprung, chair of the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society (FVHRS), announced on the society’s website they will open with a “modified schedule” for the rest of 2021.
“Opening on Saturdays only, all tickets to be purchased online and include social contact information for your group,” Sprung wrote. “There will be no walk-up tickets available until further notice.”
Sprung noted speeder rides would start Aug. 14 and go until Oct. 9 and tickets to ride in one half of a train car will be available online.
“The carriages are divided with plexiglas; each ticket allows one person, or small group, to sit in their own social bubble.”
He noted spur rides would start Aug. 21 and run just two weekends until the Aug. 28.
“These rides are on our own spur line,” he wrote. “This is not a ride to Sullivan.”
Sullivan journeys would then begin Sept. 4 and run until Oct. 9.
“Board at Cloverdale Station, ride on our spur to join the SRY mainline (original BCER Fraser Valley Line) to Sullivan, and return,” Sprung explained.
He added the volunteers at FVHRS are happy to get back on track after such a long break. The FVHRS has not been open to the public since they ran their Christmas train in 2019.
“We will be inspecting all our equipment and re-certifying our volunteers to ensure you have a safe ride on Surrey’s Heritage Rail experience,” Sprung wrote.
Michael Gibbs, communications coordinator for FVHRS, said the society is holding a volunteer fair Aug. 7 in an effort to replenish a volunteer corps that has been depleted over the last 20 months of inactivity.
“The event will include speeder rides and tours,” said Gibbs. “The purpose of the event is twofold: to encourage visitors to consider volunteering and to view what is new at the station.”
He said it’s being held as a drop-in event so that prospective volunteers and their families can see and hear the plans for Heritage Rail’s summer and fall programs. He said they are looking for people who’ll enjoy participating in part of Surrey’s living history.
“There are many areas to consider volunteering, including: maintenance and restoration, tour guide, sales clerk in the gift shop, and greeter,” said Gibbs. “The station is also home to the Heritage Rail Players and they’re always looking for those who would like to dress up in period costume and entertain in song and short stories.”
Gibbs said every volunteer would receive adequate training in their specified area of interest, including train restoration and railcar maintenance.
“All this activity requires many volunteers who enjoy meeting people and sharing n the wonderful history of our city,” he explained. “The volunteer fair is crucial and will be rewarding to all those who hop on board.”
Gibbs added full planning is underway for their annual Halloween train and their annual Christmas train.
Gibbs also noted the special FVHRS exhibit is still on at the Museum of Surrey, but will be ending on Sept. 2. The exhibit covers the first 20 years of history for the group.
PAINT THE TRAIN
Gibbs said a joint project between the railway, Surrey Arts Council, and Langley Arts Council is also back.
In its third year, “Paint the Train” offers artists a chance to win some cash prizes for their artwork created around a specific theme. This year’s theme focuses on “the era around the BC Electric Railway that includes both the impact of electricity on (modern day) areas of Surrey and Langley, and includes the various Steam railway operations for freight, passengers and logging.”
Entry deadline for “Paint the Train” is Aug. 21 and all artworks must be submitted by Oct. 16.
The FVHRS volunteer fair runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more info on the fair, “Paint the Train,” or the summer and fall programs, visit fvhrs.org.