Cars lose when trying to beat trains
Richmond has the worst record in B.C. for collisions between trains and vehicles.
The city has topped the provincial league of shame for the last two years with an average of five crashes per year.
This is really surprising considering how little train traffic there is in Richmond. The only active lines are operated by CN and both serve the south arm of the Fraser. The active track (“The Lulu Island Industrial Line“) runs along the north arm from a bridge which links it New Westminster and the main lines. It splits into two spurs one along No 9 Road to LaFarge cement and the expanding industrial Area and the other along River Road to Shell Road where it runs sharply south and reaches Fraser Wharves next to the Deas Basin. The main traffic is imported cars, though there are a very small number of industrial plants that get bulk commodities like plastic pellets by rail.
The trains are not especially frequent – and on the Shell Road line I would guess that its down to about 1 a day each way on weekdays. So managing to get the worst record in BC says something about Richmond drivers. Unfortunately there are a lot of very prejudiced remarks that are made about drivers in Richmond, but as with all the best legends there is a grain of truth. Richmond was the scene of a long running driver’s license scam – driving schools found corrupt examiners who would pass people for cash. While that practice was uncovered and stopped, no remedial action was ever taken, so those who had obtained licenses by this method are still driving.
What the story does not say is that CN has proposed to close the line along Shell Road – mainly becuase of the number of collisions at level crossings – and (*re)build the short length of track that would link Fraser Wharves with the end of track along Blundell near No 7 Road. The right of way has been levelled and preloaded but construction has yet to start.
This is, of course, a problem all over – and in this last week Network Rail in the UK released some quite remarkable footage from their cctv surveillance cameras showing “near misses”
I am afraid I have also seen too many such events – but I do not have a video camera constantly trained on my line of sight
* there was once a line that ran along the north bank of the South Arm all the way to Steveston but that was lifted many years ago. A short length of track is still in place to serve Crown Packaging from the Shell Road line but I have only seen a train on it once in ten years. And did not have a camera with me when I did