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Stanley Park Railway to increase summer hours, despite maintenance concerns

Edina Beeby and her family ride the Stanley Park Railway. (Credit: Edine Beeby) Edina Beeby and her family ride the Stanley Park Railway. (Credit: Edine Beeby)
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The Stanley Park Railway will be operating with extended hours beginning in July, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation announced Monday

The train, which has been running on weekends since April, will operate from Wednesday to Sunday from July 3 through Sept. 2, then return for the annual Halloween Ghost Train event in October.

The heritage locomotive has required a slew of repairs in recent years, prompting cancellations of the Holiday Bright Nights event and others. Most recently, the attraction sustained track damage over Easter.

“There is actually a higher level of inspection and maintenance that is being made to the train right now. It’s an old piece of infrastructure so there is always unforeseen things," explained Laura Christensen, park board commissioner.

Christensen added that by the end of the year, three locomotives will be pulling 10 carriages, which is close to the capacity the train was at prior to closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There was only one locomotive and a couple carriages available last year, but there will be more available for the Ghost Train and Bright Nights this year," she said.

Edina Beeby is one of the eager parents who is cautiously optimistic about the train’s return.

She was unable to secure tickets to last year's Bright Nights event after they quickly sold out online, but has been riding the train with her family for more than 40 years.

“The more that they can maintain the life of that tradition would be amazing," she said.

Beeby added that she's “hopeful” the train will be able to stay on the track throughout the year.

The City of Vancouver took over maintenance of the train in 2009, but has struggled with oil leaks, rusty tracks and frozen brakes among a laundry list of other issues over the years.

Zafar Adeel, director of the SFU School of Sustainable Energy Engineering, said it's only a matter of time before the train breaks down and is unable to be fixed due to its aging engine.

“By and large the locomotives date from the 1960s, which means their maintenance is both problematic and costly to the city," he said.

Adeel and his students are urging the city to switch over to a more reliable electric system. He is hopeful they will do so by the end of the year.

"There is interest in maintaining the traditional experience but by taking out the outdated engines you are actually improving that experience, both from environmental and human health perspective.”

Technical Safety BC confirmed to CTV News that the train has met requirements for safe operation and the organization will continue working with the city to ensure that remains the case. 

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