Two classes of BC Institute of Technology (BCIT) student conductors have been using the Alberni Pacific Railway for some of their on-the-job training this week. Trains will continue to operate on the railway between the train station on Argyle Street and Smith Road at McLean Mill until Sunday, Nov. 25.
Trains are operating between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. and Alberni Valley drivers are asked to pay special attention at rail crossings.
Please obey the signals, particularly if the trainees are on the ground after dark. Students will sometimes use flares and lanterns for signaling in the dark, especially at lower Argyle Street crossing.
Walkers and ATVers are cautioned to stay off the railroad tracks as well as Roger Creek Trestle.
The Industrial Heritage Society, in order to prepare for this training, restored the No. 11 small diesel-electric locomotive that used to push cars around the yard at the paper mill. MacMillan Bloedel gifted the small locie to the IHS in the 1990s and it has been under restoration since then.
BCIT wanted students to have the ability to switch railcars in the yard where there is more than one locomotive in motion. Restoring the No. 11 will give them this capability, volunteer David Hooper said.
The good side to this story is the student conductors will now have a more realistic experience.
This gives the Alberni Pacific Railway an edge over the other BCIT training site in Squamish because APR volunteers can simulate a busy railyard and they also have the private line that goes out to McLean Mill, Hooper said.
The IHS will recoup some of its costs by running the BCIT practicums, he said.