Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Railways review safety practices

Nation's big operators react to Que. disaster

  • Print

CALGARY -- The disaster in Lac-M©gantic, Que., has prompted Canada's two largest railways to review their own safety procedures.

Nearly two weeks ago, an unmanned train belonging to the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway carrying 72 cars of oil crashed into the town, setting off explosions that are believed to have killed up to 50 people.

Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) said Thursday it's strengthening some of its safety procedures following a review.

"The recent situation gave us a chance to thoroughly review our safety procedures, as we do on an ongoing basis," said Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for Canada's second-largest railway.

"The result is that we have now strengthened our operating procedures in some key areas that were identified from what recently occurred."

An internal staff memo from last week, obtained by the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star newspapers, said the changes were in anticipation of new Transport Canada rules.

For instance, Greenberg said if trains must be left unattended outside a terminal or yard, the locomotive will be locked. In the past, that was only the case in some "high-risk" locations.

Brake-setting procedures -- which Greenberg says already meet or exceed regulations -- will also be strengthened. And trains carrying dangerous material will not be left unattended on main-line tracks.

"Our railway continually reviews practices and procedures to identify ways to further strengthen operating safety," he said. "For CP, we felt implementing additional safety measures at this time was the prudent step to take."

A spokesman for Montreal-based Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) says the railroad is also reviewing its safety procedures in light of Lac-M©gantic.

Mark Hallman said Canadian National -- Canada's biggest railroad -- already has "robust" policies in place to make sure its unattended trains are secure by relying on "multiple safety defences."

For instance, air brakes are applied on both locomotives and throughout the train and the hand brake is applied to the lead locomotive, Hallman said.

All locomotives are also secured to prevent movement. The reverser -- like a gear shift in a car -- is removed from the control stand, so a train cannot move forward or backward.

All doors and windows are locked on locomotives, and two crew members continually communicate with one another to make sure everything is being done right.

CN locomotives also have a device that prompts a full-service brake application if it detects movement or no response from the control stand -- something Greenberg said CP also uses.

Both CN and CP use two-person crews, whereas only one MM&A engineer was working when the Lac-M©gantic disaster struck.

A little over a week before Lac-M©gantic, the safety of transporting dangerous goods by rail was brought to light in a separate incident.

Severe flooding in Calgary caused a Canadian Pacific-owned rail bridge to give way while a train carrying petroleum distillate was crossing it in the middle of the night.

Crews managed to secure the cars so they didn't get swept away in the Bow River. They then drained the fluid and removed the cars from the broken bridge.

Though the incident was resolved without injuries or environmental damage, the close call caused Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi to criticize Canadian Pacific.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2013 B16

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Tree remover has special connection to Grandma Elm

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS STANDUP - pretty sunflower in field off HWY 206 near Bird's Hill Park Thursday August 09/2007
  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should political leaders be highly visible on the frontlines of flood fights and other natural disasters?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google