Rail officials say homeless camps along train lines in Surrey are posing a danger.

Homeless camping near rail line

Southern Rail is having to sound whistles more often to alert campers of coming trains

The city and a rail company are struggling to keep homeless camps from settling near a Newton rail line.

It’s a relatively new phenomenon in Surrey.

About three months ago, Southern Rail of British Columbia (SRBC) noticed homeless camps along its rail line through Newton, particularly from 64 Avenue and 152 Street to 72 Avenue and King George Boulevard.

A large camp was also found by the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

J. Singh Biln, director of community relations for SRBC said it’s of great concern to the railway because people could get hurt.

“It’s really just the last three months that it’s really, really increased significantly,” Biln told The Leader Wednesday.”It’s so dangerous to be near trains.”

He said it’s too frequent that it happens where people throughout the world are injured or killed by trains.

Just last fall, near Old Yale and South Fraser Perimeter Road, there was such a tragedy.

“We had some young people who had been partying up by the (Fraser) river, and they went for a joyride on a train,” Biln said. “And a young lady – 16 years old – lost her arm above the elbow.”

Railway staff are all too aware similar injuries or worse could happen any time.

He is at a loss as to explain why the homeless population has become an issue on the tracks in the last few months.

“We’re going to be working with the City of Surrey to find out what’s happening,” Biln said. “Maybe they have been moved out of some public area and end up on our private property.”

SRBC has hired RECYCLE IT to keep the track clean, and he says the company is finding truckloads of garbage, metal, “and of course, lots of needles.”

Another issue for people living around the track is extended train whistles through the night.

“At times we’ve had people right on the tracks, right on the right of way, and we have to sound the whistle, so that’s what’s been happening,” Biln said. “Trains can’t just stop on a dime.”