The 36-year-old male driver of a Volkswagen Jetta was killed early Saturday morning when his vehicle collided with a southbound train in the 33000 block of Townshipline Road in Abbotsford.
Const. Ian MacDonald of the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) said police believe the driver, an Abbotsford resident, was travelling east on Townshipline Road when he crashed into the train.
The crash took place at about 3 a.m., and several of the train cars then derailed near Highway 11 and Turner Street, taking down power poles and resulting in a power outage affecting about 8,000 customers at its peak.
MacDonald said the train consists of 123 cars, and three of them were involved in the derailment.
The approximate area of the outage was north of Highway One to McCallum Road and west-east from Gladwin Road to Sumas Way. Most customers had power restored by 6:30 a.m., but some were still without power at noon.
The train, which was travelling along the tracks that run parallel to Highway 11 for a portion, blocked off several intersections from the area of the derailment through the old downtown core. George Ferguson Way and Essendene crossings were blocked by the stationary rail cars, but Marshall Road to the south was clear for traffic as of 6 a.m.
Townshipline Road was closed by police at Gladwin Road and at the other side of the tracks at Riverside Street. The closures continued throughout the day.
The train involved is one of the empty coal trains operated by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) that have temporarily been passing through Abbotsford along the Southern Railway (SRY) line.
Two or three trains a day, each more than two kilometres long, began making their way through Langley and Abbotsford in July, while construction takes place along the route in Washington.
BNSF is upgrading tracks and replacing two bridges between the border and Burlington, Wash.
The empty trains have been rerouted from Roberts Bank through Langley and Abbotsford and down to Sumas. The rerouting plan is expected to take place until the end of November.
The trains normally run south from Roberts Bank, through White Rock, and enter the U.S. at the Peace Arch border crossing.
The APD is working with BNSF, SRY, the BC Coroners Service, BC Hydro and the BC Safety Authority.
– with files from Tyler Olsen
(Below: The red portion shows the area affected by the power outage at its peak.)