South Shore mayors concerned over crude oil shipment
Published Monday, August 25, 2014 8:56PM EDT
Some South Shore mayors are expressing concern as CN Rail is spending $9 million upgrading a section of its track before a boost in crude oil shipments on the line.
Transport Canada ordered CN last week to reduce the speed limit by more than half on the line, which they did that for a six-kilometre section of the line that already was running at relatively slow speeds.
Boucherville Mayor Jean Martel said that hasn’t reduced his concern.
“Since the middle of July, there are 30 to 60 new wagons of petroleum going through Boucherville. Is it only the beginning? Will there be an increase? That railway was built a long time ago,” he said.
The mayor wants a feasibility study on moving the tracks closer to Highway 30 and away from his city
“We need to know what would be the cost what would be the most important issues about moving this railway,” he said.
The 73-kilometre stretch of track between Saint-Lambert and Sorel-Tracy is used for freight. Due to its age, CN is replacing 40,000 cracked ties.
Avrom Shtern of the Green Coalition saidspeed limit reduction shows CN is not giving maintenance enough priority.
“What that tells me is that they're truly not interested in running a railway. They're truly interested in it just as the railway as being an investment vehicle and that's pathetic,” said Shtern.
In a statement, CN said the repairs were long planned and that it "applied to Transport Canada to further reduce train speed from 40 km/h to 16 km/h at one specific location ... Remedial work will be completed in a few days."
Sorel-Tracey Mayor Serge Peloquin said it's unacceptable that rail companies are left to patrol themselves.
After last year's deadly train derailment in Lac-Megantic, “It would be stupid to neglect peoples’ lives,” he said.
Railway expert Harry Gow of Transport Action Canada said the track needs work but the slow speeds mean the risk is low.
“We're never going to be dealing with very high speed here so let's be realistic, the phantasmagoria of derailments and of huge fires in Sorel – I'd be very surprised,” he said.
South Shore mayors plan to meet next week andhope to present a common front in their dealings with CN, saying the company should also consider moving the track out of populated areas.