This weekend the Langley City Library is providing a look back at the interurban passenger rail that once connected the city to Vancouver and as far east as Chilliwack.
The British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) was an interurban electric railway created in 1897. At its peak the BCER provided interurban service on three lines that covered a large portion of southern B.C., according to Canada-Rail.
On Saturday, Graham Evan MacDonell, a BCER researcher and historian, will be on site at the City Library from 1 to 3 p.m. to share a local perspective about the Fraser Valley Interurban Line.
When the line was completed in 1910, the passenger rail service connected locals between New Westminster and Chilliwack, according to Surrey’s Heritage Rail.
In recent years there have been efforts to reintroduce the passenger rail.
Earlier this year Translink released a report addressing a proposal to reintroduce community passenger rail service, which found “the benefits of implementing rapid transit on the interurban corridor are insufficient to warrant further consideration.”
One of the issues addressed specifically related to Langley involves the segment of the corridor between Cloverdale and Langley.
“One of the corridors that has experienced growth in freight movements and is expected to grow is the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor (RBRC) that connects Delta Port with the CN heavy rail network and allows the movement of bulk materials and containers between the Vancouver Gateway and the rest of Canada,” according to the TransLink report.
MacDonell said the economy is too big an issue to take on and reintroducing the passenger rail is never going to happen.
“You are not going to move CPR to allow a public transit system,” said MacDonell.
“I wish it would [come back],” he added.
Although Chilliwack is known as the official opening site of the Fraser Valley line on Oct. 3, 1910, Langley Prairie (City) marks the site where the company officially terminated its passenger service nearly 40 years later on Sept. 30, 1950.
MacDonell will provide an overview of the history of the BCER in Langley, share maps of the township from the past 100 years, before inviting guests on a virtual ride from Hunter Station on the west side of Langley Prairie (City) to Jackman Station on the east side of Langley Township, looking at a number of “famous” stations and the people connected with them.
“They can see photographs of parts of the line most people have never seen before,” said MacDonell.
The presentation is free to the public and will include refreshments.
The original Fraser Valley line is now known as the Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY) and still runs along the original route providing freight service.