Upgrades slated for Abbotsford rail crossings

Improvements will allow trains to move through urban core without sounding whistle every time

Two rail crossings at Valley Road are among those slated for improvements

Two rail crossings at Valley Road are among those slated for improvements

More than two dozen rail crossings across the City of Abbotsford will receive upgrades over the coming years, and eight in the city’s urban core will see improvements to allow trains to stop whistling on every approach.

Last Monday, council approved staff’s plan to apply to the federal government for funding and commit to upgrading 27 different crossings over the next three years.

New rules require rail companies and local jurisdictions to ensure crossings across the country meet federal standards by November 2021. A report for the city has found that fewer than half of the 52 crossings in the city meet federal standards.

Upgrading the crossings is expected to cost the city $1.1 million, although federal funding for up to 80 per cent of the cost is available. Another 14 crossings must be upgraded by the rail companies at no cost to the city.

Further upgrades to eight crossings that will allow trains to pass without being required to sound their whistles every time is expected to cost an additional $1.8 million.

The move would ensure all crossings through the city’s urban development area meet whistle cessation standards. Rail companies will themselves pay to improve four more crossings to whistle cessation standards in 2019.

Improving 21 other crossings in rural areas would cost the city at least another $5.5 million and is not recommended.

A staff report recommends the improvements “to further improve safety and quality of life” in the urban areas. Those upgrades – which would include flashing lights, bells and, possibly, gates – would not be eligible for funding.

The improvements wouldn’t completely silence trains, however, as they still retain the right to whistle at crossings when needed.

“This will go a long way to reducing some of the air horns we hear from the trains in the middle of the night,” Mayor Henry Braun said.

Of the eight crossings requiring improvement, seven are along the SRY line that runs from the border north through the city’s core then, from Clayburn road, west toward Langley. They are at crossings on: Valley Road; Industrial Avenue; Enterprise Avenue; Turner Street; Morey Avenue; 4th Avenue; 2nd Avenue. The other is the CPR crossing at Valley Road.