Heritage Rail’s 2022 season kicked off with a bit of pomp May 7.
At 10 a.m. the “Connaught” railcar pulled out of Cloverdale Station as the Surrey Firefighters Pipe and Drum serenaded the famous railcar on its run to Sullivan Station.
“Everything went exactly to plan,” said Allen Aubert, secretary for the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society (FVHRS). “It went very well indeed. All of the dignitaries made their speeches, the band was magnificent, the train was full, and everyone had a wonderful time.”
On Sunday (May 8), Aubert said about 30 volunteers from CN’s heritage rail station in Fort Langley visited Cloverdale Station.
“They came out to have a look at what was going on,” he said. “We hosted them and it was very exciting day. A superb turnout.”
Aubert said the Connaught only ran on May 7 and it will only be running about once every six weeks over the summer.
“It’s a very special car. It’s the only surviving “Chilliwack” car, which is part of what was called the 1300 series,” explained Aubert. “We just don’t have a whole range of spare parts should anything ever need to be replaced. So we use it very carefully.”
He said their other cars are 1200 series cars and they have a lot of spare parts lying around.
“We want to treat this car (Connaught) very carefully and just give it a light use because it doesn’t matter where we look, there are no spare parts.”
Aubert said when they schedule the next “Connaught weekend,” FVHRS will announce it well in advance on their website, fvhrs.org.
Aubert added that a special event weekend will be coming up in August.
“I don’t have all the information yet, so you have to stay tuned, but it will be a Roaring Twenties theme,” he said. “There will be some exciting things happening to celebrate that.”
He said they’re looking at special themes for other weekends too, but most of the planning is still in the early stages.
“There are lots of little things that we are sprinkling in as we go along.”
He said FVHRS is also looking at doing more cross promotion with the other Heritage Rail facilities in the Lower Mainland.
“We have the CN historic station in Fort Langley, there are no trains that run, but they have beautiful exhibits. We have Burnaby Village, they have a static Interurban (railcar). And Steveston’s got a static Interurban. So we like to make sure visitors to those areas that want to take the next step and ride an historic train know it’s not too far to come to us.”
He said the cross promotion works hand-in-hand with overcoming all of the facilities’ biggest challenge: awareness.
“As we come back from COVID, rebuilding awareness and getting the message out that we’re back and in full swing is our next major challenge.”
The Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society operates the railway out of the Cloverdale Station and the restoration Car Barn at Hwy 10 and 176A Street, in Surrey.
For more information, or to buy tickets, visit fvhrs.org.