Editorial — Railway shows blissful indifference to everyone else

The railway is typically mute — there are no announcements about track work or adjustments to traffic signals.

Canadian Pacific Railway is doing summer maintenance on its tracks that bisect the heart of Langley’s commercial district. But the railway hasn’t bothered to tell anyone. It takes the approach that people will find out when they are stuck waiting for up to 10 minutes for a train to pass.

On Tuesday, The Times got a phone call from one such driver. He had been waiting for more than 10 minutes at the 200 Street crossing. He said he and many other drivers were getting out of their cars, and he’d even discovered an anthill by the side of the road as he waited, and waited, and waited.

On Wednesday morning, traffic on Fraser Highway was backed up into Surrey waiting for a container train to pass the crossing at about five miles per hour. Trains are required to slow right down when track work is underway, as a derailment is more likely if they travel at normal speeds while the track is being realigned and repaired.

This is typical of the entire issue of road-rail conflicts in Langley. The railway is almost always mute — there are no announcements about track work or adjustments to traffic signals. Federal transport rule changes are imposed on local governments without notice.

A massive overpass program is underway, but it isn’t tackling any of the major crossings — Fraser Highway, 200 Street, the Langley Bypass, Crush Crescent or Glover Road.

The work that is going on, largely financed by tax dollars, will mainly benefit the railway. That’s why an overpass is being built over 232 Street, far from the highly-congested Langley commercial district.

While local politicians have exerted some influence in getting overpasses here, they need to start putting a lot more pressure on. The federal government is indifferent to how its rules affect traffic movement here. The railway is indifferent to everyone, except perhaps its customers or shareholders. Local councils talk a good talk about improvements, but seem to be left on the sidelines more often than not, as the federal government or the railway do as they see fit.

If Langley residents are fed up with this lack of communication and indifference to road-rail conflicts, they need to let our MP and the railway know. They can also talk to other levels of government, but they seem impotent on this issue.

INFORMATION UPDATE — On Thursday, July 19 at about 1:38 p.m., a Canadian Pacific coal train headed eastbound crossed 200 Street at between five and 10 miles per hour. These trains are somewhat shorter than the container trains which also traverse the tracks through Langley. It took just under 10 minutes for the train to cross the road, and there were well over 125 vehicles backed up waiting to cross the tracks, including transport trucks, HandyDart buses and many other vehicles. Multiplied by the other two major crossings in Langley City, that means that somewhere close to 400 vehicles and their occupants waited for well over 10 minutes in the midst of the work day. How much of a productivity loss is that? Does anyone in a position of authority care?

Coal trains are not on the tight timeline that container trains must meet, and it could be argued that all empty coal trains should be held at the port until the work day is over, in order to have less of an impact on the day-to-day business of this community. If that is not possible, perhaps Canadian Pacific should compensate all those who lose business and productivity when trains pass by at such a snail’s pace.

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