A BNSF empty coal train approaches the 272 Street crossing in Gloucester industrial park on July 15. Additional rail activity on the normally-quiet Southern Railway of B.C. line through North Langley has caught the attention of neighbouring residents.

No notice given on train diversion plans

Trains go by at all hours of the day and night, and homes near the rail line are being shaken.

Editor: The following is an open letter to Gus Melonas, director, public affairs, BNSF Railway, and J. Singh Biln, director, community relations, Southern Railway of British Columbia Limited.

The rarely-used SRY rail line is currently subject to 65 days and nights of traffic noise pollution for residents along the “Sperling” branch, located east and south of 232 Street, crossing 72 Avenue into Abbotsford toward the U.S. at Sumas.

The newly-routed, two kilometre-long BNSF trains of empty coal cars are currently passing 30 yards from our house and property — three and four times a day. Sometimes there are two trains at night.

Blasting horns are followed by six to nine minutes of rumbling.

This temporary diversion has been arranged without letter, notification, contact, warning, consultation or compensation arrangements for local residents.

The new diversion is now resulting in nightly disturbances for all residents in our neighbourhood. We are currently subject to trains blasting horns and passing at various times — 10:30 p.m., midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., 5 a.m or 6 a.m.  On the morning of Tuesday, July 15, we endured three trains, at 4 a.m., 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Consequently, in our household we are now not sleeping.

We have been woken six out of the seven past nights and are exhausted to the point of illness.

The noise and shaking of our house foundations is beyond reasonable.

The Langley Township noise bylaws re: disturbing the peace state:  “The Township of Langley’s Noise Control Bylaw No. 2573 states in part that industrial areas cannot exceed 65 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., or 60 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.”

Are these trains a safety hazard?

Local interurban rail lines were laid in the 1910s for three-car trolley trains and light use. It is not unreasonable to expect 65 days of two kilometre-long trains could shift the aging foundations of the incline to the rear of our property.

This new arrangement negates the normal run of trains on this lightly-used branch line, which, up to the present, have numbered two trains per week. Why are train alternative routes via Mission and south to Sumas not being utilized?

I respectfully demand an explanation as to why we have not been notified of this new night-time train routing and the safety of such a move.

The SRY/BNSF business arrangement has been entered into without regard for residents having to endure the disturbance of peace, at the expense of our nighttime rest.

SRY and BNSF are private businesses subject to local environmental and safety bylaws. Trucking companies would not be afforded such license if they acted in similar fashion.

The train rerouting decision was made  without notification, and no public discussion has been arranged.

I would like to know why.

John Williams,


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