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All aboard in Cloverdale

Hundreds of visitors came to check out Railcars 1225 and 1304 as the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society held its official launch of the Cloverdale Car Barn. The society hopes to launch its passenger service on the May long weekend.  - Boaz Joseph / Black Press
Hundreds of visitors came to check out Railcars 1225 and 1304 as the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society held its official launch of the Cloverdale Car Barn. The society hopes to launch its passenger service on the May long weekend.
— image credit: Boaz Joseph / Black Press

It was the official housewarming party for Cloverdale’s newest heritage attraction.

Last weekend, the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society hosted an open house and official opening of its new Cloverdale Car Barn, drawing more than 250 visitors and dignitaries.

And as with any proper housewarming, one of the dignitaries brought along a housewarming gift.

At the ribbon cutting, Southern Railway (SRY) of British Columbia President Frank Butzelaar

announced the donation of a small heritage building and semaphore towers from Clayburn Junction in Abbotsford – the last manually operated diamond railway crossing in Canada.

SRY officials decided to donate the collection to the FVHRS because of its plans to launch passenger operations this spring out of Cloverdale, where a heritage rail revival is underway.

“It really is showing that both the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society installations and Cloverdale itself are becoming heritage destinations,” FVHR society chair John Sprung said.

The new car barn was completed earlier this year at 5554 176 Street.

The big green barn with red trim is home to the society’s tiny fleet: two BC Electric Railway Interurban cars that have been the focus of thousands of hours of volunteer restoration work. They made the big move from Sullivan Station at 152 Street and 64 Avenue in August.

More than 60 years after the last Interurban passed through Cloverdale, passenger service is set to resume on the Victoria Day long weekend in May, staffed by volunteers and running on summer weekends and holidays until Thanksgiving 2013, Sprung said.

The project is in partnership with the City of Surrey and the Southern Railway of B.C., with the assistance of B.C. Hydro.

“Next year is basically our ‘proof of concept runs’ to ensure everybody is happy,” Sprung said.

The society will then look at expanding service westward, first to Newton Town Centre, and possibly as far as the Scott Road Skytrain station.

In the meantime, a volunteer drive is underway to recruit operators, conductors, ticket masters, maintenance crew and more.

No experience is necessary, said Sprung, just “living, breathing, and with a passion for people.” Training starts later this year.

The Cloverdale Car Barn is also the future home of Cloverdale Station, a replica of the original Interurban station that was built in 1909. Construction is set to begin in November. The society is about half-way to its fundraising goal of $1.5 million for the project.

“We’re all very excited,” he said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming the world to Cloverdale.”

To volunteer call 604-574-9056 or email volunteer@fvhrs.org.

Or visit: http://www.fvhrs.org.

See: Heritage Rail Project Chugs Forward, Aug. 15, 2012.

 

VIDEO: Interurban car 1225 restoration nears completion

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