Two-man crews limited damage in 1996 train wreck

Published: July 12, 2013

MONTREAL — Nearly two decades ago, the fiery derailment of a Wisconsin train became a rallying point in a union fight to make the state the first in the United States to require two-person crews on locomotives.

The 1996 wreckage of the train, which sent fireballs exploding 90 meters in the air, was operated by Wisconsin Central Transportation Corp., then headed by Ed Burkhardt, the CEO of the railway now under scrutiny for a rail disaster early Saturday in Lac-Mégantic.

During the Wisconsin derailment, union leaders credited the actions of the conductor — who uncoupled the cars carrying chemicals and propane to prevent the fire from spreading further — at a time when several rail companies, including Burkhardt’s Wisconsin Central, were experimenting with the use of one-person crews.

Read the complete story at the Montreal Gazette.