Saturday, 16 February 2013

Wrong Side Of The Tracks At Crescent Beach

IF I HAD GOTTEN THERE just a few seconds earlier I would have avoided some fifteen minutes of waiting while the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train chugged across Crescent Beach Road in Surrey where I often drive to go for my walks. The string of freight cars seemed miles long and were likely headed back from a port in Delta, BC, where controversial coal is delivered for export to Asia from the US.

Their increasingly frequent comings and goings have shown how difficult it would be to leave Crescent Beach in a hurry during an emergency situation when trains are blocking the only way in or out for vehicles. This will be more worrying in the future as there are proposals to build a coal export terminal in Surrey on the Fraser River and expanding the train runs. I hope such plans will be reviewed carefully by the public. Apparently, similar plans for new ports have been rejected by our good neighbors to the south in Washington and Oregon.

For obvious safety reasons there has also been brief mention of constructing an expensive emergency escape tunnel at Crescent Beach. With so many other needs that are costly in Surrey I am not certain when, if, or how such a logistically challenging idea would materialize.

Not surprisingly when I arrived at the same crossing the next day another train was going by ... this time with tanks and boxcars. Chemicals with names like chlorine hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite and liquefied petroleum gas were being transported along with goods that sounded less hazardous.

I noticed that traveling graffiti was also on board many containers. Drivers shut off their car engines and watched the chaotic art drift by.

The joy of having a camera handy is that there is never a dull moment because there is always something to photograph and to ponder.

But whether leaving or entering Crescent Beach it seems there is only the wrong and never the right side of the tracks when the trains to go by.

Postscript, Feb. 16, 2013:
By the looks of the No Coal Exports sign (above) that I spotted since posting this article on Dec. 17, 2012, some Crescent Beach locals are making an effort to prevent the development of a coal terminal (mentioned earlier) that would increase the number of train runs clattering down the BNSF tracks.

Read another post about the increasing train runs HERE.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

See more BC scenes at Penelope Puddlisms: BC Life Is A Whale Of A Ride.


  1. At least the passing train put a show on for you:-)

  2. Those trains are a worry, and so is the cargo they carry...

    I suppose they couldn't consider a overpass instead of a tunnel?


  3. There is major concern at what these trains are carrying. We have the same thing here. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  4. Hmmm. I can see there could be a potential problem there if a quick escape route were needed simultaneously with a train passing through.

  5. Very interesting photos from the wrong side of the tracks. I hope the train traffic doesn't get too much more.

  6. A potential problem indeed if that quick route was needed and the trains were there -- sitting like they so frequently do! But, as Andy wrote, it did put on a show for you!! Hope you and your family have a great holiday season!!

  7. It does sound like a long train with lots of cars. I would be watching the graffiti on the train cars. Great shots, have a happy day!

  8. Look at the great shots you ! Wow!

    (A Creative Harbor) ~ aka ArtMuseDog and Carol ^_^

  9. Increased trains would definitely make it far more difficult for Crescent Beach residents to Get Outta Dodge in the event of a disaster. If I were still a resident of South Surrey, I would be inclined to bite the bullet and help pay for the tunnel because, to my mind, nothing could be worse than losing all those people, in our beloved Crescent Beach, to something like a major fire.
    Not that I'm trying to talk my friends and relatives into paying for it, just saying how I'd feel.
    Meanwhile, it was great to sit and watch the train with you today. Long time no see, with no end in sight. I must phone soon.
    Love and hugs to you and yours,

  10. What great mean to measure time and life. Thank you for this interesting entry.
    Please have a good Tuesday.

    daily athens photo

  11. You definitely made the best of a frustrating wait, Penelope. I enjoyed all of the photographs, but most especially your great capture of Pluto :) I do worry about the contents of those cars. My childhood memory of the conductor waving from the train that passed through our village each day at 4:00 p.m. was a romantic one, but the reality is not so friendly to us or the environment. As for blocked escape routes, that is a huge worry. My childish wish is that we could stop "progress" in its tracks.

  12. Railroads are Kings is their attitude. They view all other forms of transportation as competition.

  13. Oh but it was worth it for the photography surely ;)


  14. Having a camera can turn a boring wait into a great photo shoot. Wonderful shots!

  15. Fortunately we don't live near a railway line so when we are held up by a long train it is a very enjoyable novelty. This only happened about a month ago when we were on a mini road trip, before that it had been years. I found it fascinating.

  16. I've loved Crescent Beach since I was a toddler. In those days, it was possible to take a train from Vancouver to White Rock.
    Whenever I think of that possible emergency scenario arising, I shudder to think of the people in Crescent Beach trying to get out. Unfortunately, its population is small, and may not have much sway at Surrey City Hall, a sad circumstance.
    I've enjoyed going through your February pictures. I know I was out there recently, but I'm homesick all over again.
    Luv, K

  17. Your photos are spectacular!!


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