PORTLAND, Maine – The bankrupt railroad whose runaway train sparked a fire and explosion that killed 47 people in Quebec could be sold by year’s end, the company’s trustee said Thursday.

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway has made no secret that its sale will be necessary to repay creditors and victims following the July 6 disaster Lac-Megantic, Quebec. And railroad trustee Robert Keach said he’s already been approached by “several” potential buyers.

Read the complete story at The Houston Chronicle.

 

OTTAWA – A Canadian government agency has determined that the U.S. rail company whose runaway train crashed into a small Quebec town, killing 47 people last month, has adequate insurance to keep operating for the next month and a half.

The Canadian Transportation Agency said the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway provided evidence it had adequate third-party liability insurance coverage to operate from Aug. 20 to Oct. 1, 2013. The agency’s decision late Friday reversed an Aug. 13 order that would have halted the railroad’s operations from early next week.

Read the complete story at the Associated Press.

 

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. says it holds no financial responsibility for the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster and has rejected a legal demand by the Quebec government that it help pay for the cleanup in the devastated town.

The railway announced Thursday that it will appeal the province’s legal order.

Read the complete story at The Globe and Mail.

 

Mike Futhey
Mike Futhey

By Mike Futhey, 
SMART Transportation Division President – 

The events that unfolded July 6 in the Canadian province of Quebec, where a runaway train exploded and killed 47 people in the city of Lac-Megantic, weigh on the minds of an assortment of people whose lives were touched, directly or indirectly.

On that grizzly evening, a dark stretch of tankers jettisoned through the center of that small community, exploding in the night and leaving an indelible mark for decades to come.

I am not writing this to lay the blame at anyone’s feet; not at the feet of the management of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, nor at those of the single operating crew member. However, I would be remiss if I did not raise, again, the dangers inherent in a single-person train operation.

We have been diligent in our endeavors to stop this untenable act by submitting petitions to governmental agencies and by talking directly to the carriers that exercise the “right” to single-person operations.

Unfortunately, our demands for safety regulations, either arbitrarily or voluntarily, have fallen on deaf ears.

This event is not one of first impression. In 1997, in the state of Wisconsin, then Gov. Tommy Thompson petitioned for and signed a bill that requires a two-person train crew operation in that state. It came about after a runaway train and subsequent explosion that did not reach the level of the Lac-Megantic wreck, but that was significant enough to warrant a legislative solution.

Obviously, we find ourselves in another inexcusable scenario, wherein inactivity is an unacceptable alternative. This issue will not go silently into the night.

As such, we will reach out to likeminded leaders in the transportation industry and to legislative bodies that regulate train operations to correct this situation. In doing so, we will expose those that ignore public safety by droning on in semantic, self-justifying plausible deniability.

The new apocalyptic Lac-Megantic will not allow us to merely register a historical footnote. We will now deal with the inextricable knowledge that a single-person train operation contributed to the destruction of life.

Pray for the families of the victims. We will honor them by fighting for change.

Since the time this column was written, the SMART Transportation Division and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen jointly announced that legislation requiring at least two crew members on all freight trains in the U.S. has been filed in Congress. Also, the Federal Railroad Administration issued an emergency order and safety advisory to help prevent trains operating on mainline tracks or sidings from moving unintentionally.

capitol CLEVELAND — The Transportation Division of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation International Association (SMART) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET/IBT) have jointly announced that legislation requiring at least two crew members on all freight trains in the U.S. has been filed in Congress.

Initial sponsors for H.R. 3040 are U.S. Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and the bill is expected to be assigned to the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee for consideration.

The legislation reflects heightened concerns over crew size arising from the tragic July 6 derailment of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MM&A) fuel train in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, which killed 47 and destroyed the center of the town. The MM&A train was crewed by a single person.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce called on the House to take up the bill at its earliest opportunity. “The American people are justifiably concerned that the single-person crewing practice used on M&MA and some other short line railroads places the public safety at risk,” Pierce said. “We urge Chairman Schuster and the T&I Committee to hold hearings on this issue after the recess.”

SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey said, “This is a responsible piece of legislation that recognizes the correlations between the consist of crews and public safety. We thank Reps. Michaud and Pingree and urge more representatives to join in support.”

Canadian transportation authorities banned one-man crews for trains with dangerous goods Tuesday, responding to calls for tougher regulations after an oil train derailment in Quebec killed 47 people.

Transport Canada also said trains with dangerous goods will not be allowed to be left unattended on a main track. Hand brakes must be applied to trains left one hour or more.

Read the complete story a the Bismarck Tribune.

transport-canada-logo OTTAWA — Transport Canada July 23 announced an emergency directive pursuant to section 33 of the Railway Safety Act to increase rail safety, banning one-man crews on trains hauling one or more cars loaded with hazardous materials.

Although the cause of the accident in Lac-Mégantic remains unknown at this time, Transport Canada is moving forward to build upon the safety advisories received last Friday from the Transportation Safety Board and further enhance existing safe railway operations and the security of railway transportation.

Effective immediately, the emergency directive requires all rail operators to:

  • Ensure that no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods is operated with fewer than two qualified persons on a main track or sidings;
  • Ensure that no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods is left unattended on a main track;
  • Ensure, within five days of the issuance of the directive, that all unattended controlling locomotives on a main track and sidings are protected from unauthorized entry into the cab;
  • Ensure the directional controls, commonly known as reversers, are removed from any unattended locomotives, preventing them from moving forward or backward, on a main track or sidings;
  • Ensure that their company’s special instructions on hand brakes are applied to any locomotive attached to one or more cars that is left unattended for more than one hour on a main track or sidings;
  • Ensure that, in addition to complying with their company’s special instructions on hand brakes referred to in the item immediately above, the automatic brake is set in full service position and the independent brake is fully applied for any locomotive attached to one or more cars that are left unattended for one hour or less on a main track or sidings.

The safety of Canadians is Transport Canada’s top priority. The department is committed to working with the rail industry to examining any other means of improving rail safety.

Transport Canada has been in contact with the railway industry, and in particular with CN, CP and the Railway Association of Canada (RAC), to work together to promote the continued safety of Canada’s rail system.

The majority of railways maintain a culture of safety and security, as shown by the notable decline in derailments and train accidents over the past few years.

Transport Canada inspectors will continue to work in cooperation with the Transportation Safety Board as it conducts its investigation.

Transport Canada inspectors are at Lac-Mégantic determining whether there has been non-compliance with regulatory requirements.

Railway safety regulations exist to ensure the safety and protection of the public. If these regulations were not followed, the department will not hesitate to take action.

Transport Canada is responsible for transportation policies and programs. It promotes safe, secure, efficient and environmentally-responsible transportation. Transport Canada reports to Parliament and Canadians through the minister of Transport. It works with its portfolio partners, other government departments and jurisdictions, and industry to ensure that all parts of Canada’s transportation system work well.

The complete release, along with Related Items, can be found here.

LAC-MEGANTIC, Que. – Insufficient brake force was applied before an oil train slammed into a town in Quebec on July 6 and killed 47 people, officials said Friday.

Donald Ross, chief investigator for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said the insufficient brake force could have been due to mechanical problems with the handbrakes, or a problem with the way someone applied them.

Read the complete story at Brandon Sun.

 

A runaway oil train that killed scores of people when it slammed into a Quebec town is bringing renewed calls on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border for tougher safety rules for railroads.

Regulators and watchdogs have sought for years improvements to a common tank car design shown to be susceptible to rupture when derailed, while labor unions have pushed for a ban on trains being operated by a single crew member.

Read the complete story at Bloomberg News.

HERMON, Maine — The runaway Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway train that plowed through a small Quebec town killing 50 people on July 6 had one engineer assigned to it.

The American union of railway workers representing most of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway workers thinks the practice is dangerous, and has fought that work condition unsuccessfully since it began several years ago, its representatives say.

Read the complete story at Bangor Daily News.