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Rail safety tops agenda at meeting of transportation ministers

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Manitoba transportation minister Steve Ashton speaks to the media after a meeting of his Canadian counterparts in Winnipeg Wednesday.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Manitoba transportation minister Steve Ashton speaks to the media after a meeting of his Canadian counterparts in Winnipeg Wednesday. Photo Store

Canada’s transportation ministers, gathering for the first time since the Lac-Mégantic derailment in July, are determined such a tragedy never happen again, Manitoba’s Steve Ashton said at the conclusion of three hours of talks in Winnipeg today.

Forty-seven people died after a runaway train carrying Bakken formation crude oil derailed and exploded in the Quebec town, decimating its core.

"The legacy of the victims is actually going to be a much better safety situation in terms of rail transport in Canada," said Ashton, who co-chaired the meeting.

"I’m convinced... after the kind of discussions that I heard that is going to happen," he said. "(Canada will) have a much safer system than we had in July, a much safer system than we even have today. And sooner rather than later because everybody understands that time is of the essence."

But while ministers declared their intentions, they did not come up with any new strategies for improving rail safety in urban areas, Ashton said.

Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt did not meet with reporters afterwards, leaving out of a side door. The federal and provincial ministers met at the Fort Garry Hotel.

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Updated on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 8:26 PM CDT: Adds photo.

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