It's Saturday, 22 Jun 2013, and the culmination of years of planning, fund raising, and just plain hard work has lead to this moment. A BC Electric Railway interurban is operational, again, more than 50 years after the last one stopped running in the lower mainland. BCER number 1225, now powered by a tag-along generator, cuts through the ribbons held across the track at the newly replicated Cloverdale station. The event was attended by a host of local officials such as Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, President of SRY Rail link Frank Butzelaar, BC Hydro executive Steve Higginbotham, MLA Surrey-Cloverdale Stephanie Cadieux, and many other municipal councilors. Following the ribbon cutting short rides were offered to attending guests. Tomorrow, Sunday, 23 Jun 2013, the summer schedule begins offering rides to the public from Cloverdale to Sullivan and return.
Today the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway (FVHR) tracks run southeast from the station and car barn at Cloverdale a short distance to a junction with the Southern Railway of BC (SRY). The SRY operates on the original trackbed of the old British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER), with the exception of some minor right-of-way relocation near Cloverdale. Interurban 1225 departs Cloverdale station to the SRY junction then reverses to follow the SRY track northwest to Sullivan. It takes less than an hour to travel this route to Sullivan and back.
1897 - The British Columbia Electric Company (BCER) is incorporated in London, England. It then purchases the bankrupt Consolidated Railway Company owner of street car systems n Vancouver, Victoria, and New Westminster.
1903 - Car building starts at shops in New Westminster as rights to run passenger service is granted by local governments.
1907 - The Chilliwack line is started on speculation of growth along the route. Seventy pound rail is shipped from Liverpool, England, via Cape Horn on a chartered steamship. Concrete substations were built at Cloverdale, Coghlan, Clayburn, Vedder Mountain, and Chilliwack linking two 34,000 volt circuits drawing power from Plant One at Lake Buntzen.
1910 - A dignitary laden special leaving Vancouver for Chilliwack stopped at Cloverdale to inspect the substation but required the use of a steam locomotive for the last few miles into Chilliwack as a tree had fallen over the power line. Following that event two trains a day serviced the line.
1911 - Only one year later there were four trains per day plus a milk train and fruit and vegetable expresses.
1919 - By this time three car trains brought an average of 475 milk cans per day west into the cities.
1939 - The last run of the milk trains. Ridership reached its maximum during World War II due to gas rationing.
1945 - Post war the road network expands and car ownership increases. The BC Electric commences their "Rails to Rubber" programme.
1950 - On September 30th passenger service ends in the Fraser Valley.
1958 - BCER 1225 is the last passenger interurban car to run on the system arriving in Steveston at 01:30 a.m., 28 Feb 1958. Freight service continues in the valley.
1961 - The BCER is expropriated by the Province of British Columbia.
1968 - The BC Hydro and Power Authority if formed with BC Hydro Freight as a subsidiary.
1988 - BC Hydro Rail sold to Itel Rail Corporation.
1994 - Southern Railway of BC, part of the Washington Group of companies, purchases the railway from Itel Rail Corp.
1996 - Surrey's Heritage Advisory Commission starts a Rail Revitalization plan.
2001 - The Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society (FVHRS) is incorporated following a donation of $25,000 by Jim Wallace with the intent to obtain an interurban car, fix the car, and run that car. FVHRS builds the facilities, restores the cars, and operates this provincially licensed railway, all with volunteers.
BCER 1225 was built by the St. Louis Car Company of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in 1912. It is 51 feet in length weighing 69,700 pounds and can reach a speed over 60 miles per hour. It seats 64 passengers. It was the last passenger interurban operated by the BC Electric when it ended its run at 01:30 a.m. on 28 Feb 1958. The Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society repatriated the car from the Orange Empire Rail Museum in California during 2005 then spent 20,000 volunteer hours restoring the car to today's pristine condition.
The overhead trolley wire system no longer exists along the Southern Railway of BC's right-of-way. With today's double-stack container cars moving on their railway it isn't likely 600 volt DC overhead trolley wire will ever be installed. So to power interurban car 1225 the society uses a very quiet Cummins hospital type diesel generator mounted on a frame with four wheels attached to 1225. Dubbed the "Donkey" this generator vehicle is wrapped in a livery representing a piece of BC Electric's history.
The Society would like to see either the purchase or construction of an interurban Express Baggage car to house a power generator.
Public service began on 23 Jun 2013 and operates Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays until 14 Oct 2013 this season. The interurban departs Cloverdale at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, with the last train at 15:00. Cloverdale station opens 09:00 until 16:00 during operations. Also, Tuesday to Friday, the station provides general information on the railway's operation, plans, and opportunities from 10:00 to 14:00. More information may be found by phoning (604) 574-9056 or on the web at www.fvhrs.org.
The fare to ride the interurban from Cloverdale to Sullivan and return, including tax, is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Street parking is available on 176 Street. 19 free parking spaces may be found next to the station at 176A street. There is a small mall located at 176A Street with parking spaces.
25 Jan 2008 - Resurrect Old Interurban Tramline Fraser Valley Residents Urge
Fraser Valley Heritage Railway