All Via Rail train routes between Toronto and Montreal were shut down today after a CN freight train derailed early this morning near Brockville, Ontario. At the time of its derailment, the freight train in question was 26-cars long, and carried carbon powder, automobiles and contained significant traces of jet fuel residue. Despite the dangerous nature of the train’s contents, nobody was injured and none of the would-be Via Rail passengers set to leave today even seem that pissed.
Via Rail has been handling the situation well, providing extensive bus service instead, but that level of customer service didn’t form overnight. The Via Rail has recently had a lot of practice dealing with the exact same situation. This Brockville train derailment is the fourth in Canada since last month (two in Alberta, one in Manitoba) and they haven’t shown any signs of slowing down.
Luckily, no one was killed or injured in any of these four derailments, unlike what happened one year ago in Lac-Mégantic (the anniversary of this tragic event took place on Sunday). It’s the outrage, however, from events like Lac-Megantic that causes change to take place. Since last summer’s disaster, the government has banned the specific problematic oil carrier involved in the explosions and impinged other important regulations on this type of transportation. It’s unlikely that any group will be rallying en masse to pressure the government about these strangely consistent derailments, which is scary.
We don’t want Via Rail to adopt derailments as part of their “human” marketing scheme.
But more importantly, we don’t want to wait for people’s lives to be lost before we take action. Canada needs to take exemplary safety procedures before the train leaves the station.