There are new safety concerns about a recently reactivated railway running through the heart of East Vancouver.
CN Rail reactivated the Burrard Inlet Rail Line, which cuts across Venables and Union streets, two popular feeder routes to the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, at the beginning of January.
But while the six-plus trains per day have been causing traffic headaches, they’re now raising fears someone could get hurt after joggers and cyclists were observed climbing over an idling train.
“It’s probably only a matter of time,” says community advocate Pete Fry.
“I would say [it’s] quite unacceptable to even have a situation where that intersection is so unmonitored that people could be climbing over trains and presumably putting their bicycles through there.”
Union street is one of Vancouver’s busiest routes for cycle commuters, the Adanac bikeway, which sees upwards of 5,000 trips per day during summer months.
Fry has been outspoken about the impact the train has had on both commuter and commercial traffic in the area, and has also raised concerns about the possibility of hazardous materials being shipped through the corridor.
He says if CN insists on using the track, it needs to boost security.
“I am surprised that CN does such a mediocre job of safety, that they don’t have swampers, that they don’t have any concern for the very real perpendicular traffic that is travelling against that line.”
Vancouver’s General Manager of Engineering Jerry Dobrovolny says there’s nothing the city can do to stop the trains from using the line, but that security is CN’s responsibility.
“That’s really a question from the railway company. I mean from my perspective, the rail right of way is private property, and if there’s a train in the right of way that’s very very dangerous.”
He says the city understands residents frustrations, and that they’re working with senior levels of government to fund a vehicle crossing over the line along Malkin or William Street, though admits that’s likely years away.
In response to questions about whether CN planned to increase security measures at the crossing, CN released a statement warning people to stay off the tracks:
“Climbing on railroad equipment is not only illegal but it is extremely dangerous. No one should ever attempt to climb on a railway car or through two cars. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb or your life.”
CN did not say if there were any plans to increase police presence or controls at the crossing.