Derailment Blocks CN Line Near Hinton
Published: November 12th 2007

A Canadian National train derailed in a tunnel west of Hinton yesterday, blocking the main east-west rail line linking Edmonton and Jasper.

CN spokesman Kelli Svendsen described the incident, which occurred around 12:10 p.m., as minor, involving the derailment of a single empty grain car in an eastbound train pulling 210 such cars.

"There were no injuries and no dangerous goods involved - and the car is sitting upright just off the rails," she said. "It's a very minor incident."

The incident follows the collision between two CN freight trains outside Edson last month, the release of a Transportation Safety Board report on the derailment and toxic spill into Lake Wabamun two years ago and another minor derailment in the Jasper rail yard in September.

Ken Kuzminski, a Jasper carpenter and federal candidate for the NDP, says he recently became so concerned about railway safety that he spoke up about it.

"I'm working in a railway town, I talk to rail employees and I hear their concerns," he said. "I'm calling on the government to look at railway safety.

"We really need to give the Safety Board back the power of oversight it lost when the Railway Safety Act was amended in 1999."

Public affairs officer Jim Feeny argues, however, that Kuzminski is wrong and that CN's safety record is improving.

"We had a spike of incidents in 2005 and implemented a safety management plan," he said. "As a result, we saw a 26% reduction of mainline incidents in 2006 over 2005, and this year is just about in line with the 2006 figures.

"So, allegations about our safety record are not backed up by the statistics, which we report to the TSB."