At 8:00 AM on Monday October 21 a south bound train carrying chlorine gas blocked both exits to Crescent Beach, preventing all morning traffic from entering or exiting the community for over 40 minutes.

The train was immobilized by an “Undesirable Emergency” (UDE) triggered by air loss in the train braking system. Train brakes lock when air is released from the brake lines. Until pressure can be restored, the train can not be split or moved. As a result, BNSF were not able to comply with Transport Canada regulations that prohibit trains from blocking both exits to Crescent Beach for a maximum of 10? 15? minutes.

In a 2010 report to Surrey Mayor (Watts) & council, BNSF claimed:

“…such failures occur approximately once per year system wide throughout North America, with the probability of this happening again at this location being very remote”.

This is the 5th UDE to happen in Crescent Beach in the past two years, and the second in 2019. In a May 2019 meeting, BNSF assured residents of Crescent Beach, Gordie Hogg, and Transport Canada that new preventative measures would fix the out sized pattern of past failings. The attached graph shows that the historical pattern remains unaltered, despite the best efforts of BNSF.

Today’s event adds pressure that Transport Canada enact a citizen proposal to extend the 15 mph trestle speed limit south, to 24th Ave. This would reduce the need for trains to break or accelerate while traveling around the 24th Ave track curve. The failure also provides further validation of claims that modern freight can not reliably navigate the 24th Ave. track curve, which was not designed to accommodate mile-long, dual-marshalled trains. The province of BC and the federal government have both declined to join Surrey and White Rock’s request to study the feasibility of new and safer track options along the Semiahmoo Bay foreshore.

Erik Seiz


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