The History Southern Railway of British Columbia
Southern Railway of British Columbia Limited (SRY) has a very rich history going back over 100 years. SRY was originally incorporated on April 3, 1897 and was known as the BC Electric Railway. Our incorporation united several separate interurban and street railway systems in Vancouver, Victoria and New Westminster into one company. On July 4, 1905 BC Electric Railway leased and operated CP’s Vancouver and Lulu Island Branch. In 1910 our operations grew again with the building of a rail line through the Fraser Valley to Chilliwack, B.C.
We operated the largest system of interurban railways in Canada, shuttling passengers and express trains back and forth across the valley for 40 years. In the late 1940’s automobiles, buses and the improvement of roads saw the end of an era for shuttling passengers and a new era for handling freight. Freight service was dieselized during the 1950’s and 1960’s, and the last electric freight switching ended in October 1970. Since 1950 the line has been a shortline freight railway playing a prominent role in the industrialization of Vancouver’s lower mainland and the Fraser Valley.
The BCER was taken over by the provincial government in 1961 when BC Hydro was created. Hydro continued to operate the railway until 1988, when it was sold to Itel Rail Corp. and became Southern Railway of British Columbia. SRY became a Washington Company in 1994.
Southern Railway of British Columbia At-a-Glance…
Main Line Track Miles: 62
Employees: Aprox. 200
Freight Cars: 700
Total Carloads Freight: 68,000