NDP candidate Kuzminski reacts to latest CN accident.
Source: Brigitte Petersen - Jasper Booster staff
Published: July 9th 2008

Crews were busy cleaning up last week after five train cars carrying grain ran off the rails near Jasper’s Petro Canada station.

A witness reported to the Jasper Booster last week that the CN Rail train had been pulling out of the Jasper station when a wheel flew off, causing cars to derail and grain to spill.

No injuries were reported due to the derailment. The incident happened at about 7:40 p.m. on Sunday, June 29. The rail line was re-opened the next morning.

Kevin Franchuk, a CN spokesperson, said the train cars were not carrying dangerous goods. CN crews and contractors used vacuum trucks to clean up the spilled grain.
Franchuk said the cause of the accident is still to be determined. “The incident is under investigation,” he said.

The last couple of weeks have been challenging times for rail companies.

Divers spent last Wednesday morning inspecting two rail cars loaded with chemicals after they landed in the Thompson River following a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailment. The accident happened on July 1 near Lytton, B.C. The CPR train had been travelling on the CN track about 100 kilometres southwest of Kamloops when it was hit by a rock slide caused by heavy thunderstorms, derailing several cars carrying ethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze and windshield fluid. Environmental officials reported that no chemicals had spilled into the river.

The federal government ordered CN in June to remove potentially faulty wheels mounted on trains at the company’s Transcona wheel shop. The emergency directive came following a Transportation Safety Board railway investigation report released on June 5.
The federal government has given the railway about four months to remove any wheels that may be faulty.

The report found that about 12,000 sets are still being used by Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), CN and other railroads in North America. Loose wheels has been identified as the cause of a CPR freight train derailment near Buckskin, Ont. on Jan. 31, 2006, according to the report. Train car wheels had been mounted at CN’s Transcona wheel shop in Winnipeg.

The report found that the shop sent out 43,000 suspect wheel sets between 1998 and 2001. Many of the sets have already been removed.

Ken Kuzminski, Yellowhead riding’s NDP candidate in the provincial election held in March, has been vocalizing his concern about railway safety for last two years.
Kuzminski said if the train had been loaded with ammonia, propane or chlorine, Jasper residents and visitors could have been threatened and the local environment would have been damaged.“We would have had to evacuate part of the community on Canada Day weekend,” he said.

Kuzminski criticized CN for not working on improving its safety record. “We get so much rail traffic,” he said. “If something happens, we should be as prepared as possible.”

Kuzminski also blamed the federal government for not having stronger controls over railway safety. He said it should be as closely monitored as the airline industry and that safety should come before profits.

“Railway safety is a huge concern,” said Kuzminski. “These concerns are across Canada. We should all be concerned about the economic and environmental consequences.”