Thursday, July 12, 2007

Alarms ignored and trains overloaded

After buying a mountainous stretch of BC railways line in 2004, CN increased single trains by up to 151 units with remote operated booster locomotives going through tricky, switchback climbs. Within less than a year of CN taking over the line, a derailment had dumped 40,000 liters of toxic caustic soda in the Cheakamus killing at least 500,000 fish.

The Transportation Safety Board cited alarms being ignored, heavier trains and less experienced staff among the reasons for the disaster. Of course the report is only advisory, since 1999 the railways have been 'deregulated' out of Transport Canada's jurisdiction.

CN's spokesman Jim Feeny said recommendations that the railway's alarm systems be improved "would be taken under advisement."

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