Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ghosts of the Past: Remains of the Electric Interurban Passenger Rail System

Up until the mid-20th century, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley had an extensive electrified passenger and freight rail service network. The most famous line is the Interurban that ran from Downtown Vancouver to Chilliwack. Seventy years ago, I would have been able to take one train from Langley City to my work in Downtown Vancouver.

Unfortunately, BC Electric (whose assets are now owned or operated by BC Hydro, FortisBC, Southern Rail, and TransLink) didn’t renew or expand its passenger rail service, but let the service degrade over time. BC Electric converted the Interurban passenger service to diesel bus service, and the rest is history.

You can read more about the history of the Interburan on this blog or view some of the historic passenger and freight rail maps of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

The Interurban is still an active freight line today, and you can still see some of the older passenger rail “stations” and power substations along the line.

This long weekend, I checked out two of the easily accessible and remaining substations. The first is located at 256th Street and 68th Avenue. There is even an interpretive plaque.

Coghlan Substation. Select image to enlarge.

Coghlan Passenger Waiting Hut. Selet image to enlarge.

If the building looks familiar. You’ve likely seen it on a TV show, including the now-cancelled “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”

The other substation is located at 39623 Old Yale Rd in Abbotsford. This substation was fully renovated into a mansion and is currently listed for sale. You can also find it on Airbnb.

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