Railway President Agrees: All That Matters is Money
The President of Ontario Southland Railway, Mr. Jeff Willsie, recently submitted the following comment to Rail and Reason.
We feel that, given Mr. Willsie’s title as President, his opinions are important enough to feature as an article to share with our readers who may find these insights to be as revealing as we have.
Mr. Willsie’s opening comments about Mr. Bossart are in reference to our previous post, entitled “The Social Impact of Railways.”
Mr. Willsie’s Comment:
“Train Jane, you seem quite taken with Mr. Bossart’s letter. I hope you read the part where he suggests I may well be retired before the rail industry has to productively address the impact of their business on people and the environment. I won’t retire for at least another 10 years, if ever. So, if you stay living beside the railway you have at least 10 more years of aggravation and as I have written before moving is your best option!
Kevin O’Leary (CBC) said, ‘All that really matters is money.’ I agree. Business generates all the money for everything in this country, all the infrastructure, all the civil servants wages & benefits, all municipal spending, welfare, healthcare, absolutely everything which makes business the most powerful political force in Canada.
Railways carry a vast amount of business product and as the cost of oil increases more & more business products will travel by rail as it is far more efficient than trucking. As oil disappears, the railways will be electrified and most freight will travel by rail to transfer locations all across Canada.
The portion of the Canadian population living beside the railway is, I shall guess at 2%, of that number I shall guess 1% whine and complain about the noise, vibration and diesel fumes which is a problem created by these folks personal decision to live beside the railway.
When the government cannot get enough money from business and their employees, they borrow. The borrowing is the cause of the global financial problems today. Governments are actively promoting more business to generate more money to pay for our civilization.
The government is not going to restrict the operation of the railways that carry the products of business across our great country. The need of the 98% of the population not living beside the railway trumps the need of the 2% that live beside a railway corridor and complain about the very nature of the railway.
We are entering the next golden age of rail as oil disappears. My grandfather, a locomotive engineer on the double track New York Central railway in St. Thomas, Ontario said in the 1940s there was a train every 10 minutes in both directions 24/7. In the not too distant future, single tracks shall be doubled, double tracks shall be tripled and more yards will be built.
As oil disappears, no more air planes and folks will be back on the rails. What a glorious future for electrified rail. If you do not like living by the railway you should move now as volumes are now starting to increase and this will not stop over the next 100 years. I’m sure there will be an unstoppable 75 to 100 percent increase in rail traffic. I read Mr. Bossart’s blog and he seems quite intelligent so I’m sure he can see that in the oil-less world electrified railways shall be the transportation king!”
Jeff Willsie, President
Ontario Southland Railway
Rail and Reason’s Response:
Hello Mr. Willsie,
Yes, we are impressed with the comments that Mr. Bossart has submitted to us, as well as his own blog, Parrysounds.com. We’re impressed as he obviously cares about his community and takes an active interest in it.
We’re also impressed with how your writing has improved literally overnight in your comments to this blog!
As to when exactly when “the rail industry has to productively address the impact of their business on people and the environment,” we’ll bet that change is already well underway.
You are, of course, likely well aware of Bill S-4, The Safer Railways Act, one of the Bills earmarked for your industry, currently before Parliament in Ottawa.
“All that matters is money,” a quote you cite and agree with.
We don’t agree. We believe that people, the environment, and safety matters as well. So does Parliament in Ottawa apparently.
We provide several recent quotes from Senator Terry M. Mercer about this much- needed piece of legislation:
“…While there are many other aspects to this bill, it is clear that safety is of the utmost importance to the industry. We have similar safety systems in place in the air and marine sectors, so it seems only natural that rail should be brought in line with those industries.”
“…Railway companies are no more above the law than any other company when it comes to safety.”
“…The bill also strengthens the transportation department’s powers by introducing administrative monetary penalties, or AMPs, and increasing judicial penalties.”
“…The maximum administrative monetary penalty is $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for corporations. I also believe that these are per day and until compliance is reached.
“…The maximum judicial fines are $1 million for corporations, which is up from $200,000, and $50,000 for individuals, which is up from $10,000. For summary convictions, fines are increased to a maximum of $500,000 for corporations, up from $100,000, and $25,000 for individuals, again up from $5,000.”
“…I believe this will not only ensure more compliance, but act as a deterrent to possible deficiencies in company safety procedures, let alone adherence to them.”
So, putting the almighty dollar first and foremost might be a very expensive proposition in the not-so distant future Mr. Willsie!
Further, we note that the objective of the Safer Railways Act is to “promote and provide for the safety and security of the public and personnel, and the protection of property and the environment, in railway operations.”
As for the percentage of Canadians living by railways, we’ll forgo the guesswork and just ask you outright how many people do railway operations have to negatively and significantly affect before it matters?
As for the folks that “whine and complain’ about the railway’s noise, vibration and fumes, we hope you are well aware that Ontario Southland Railway’s current immunity from federal regulations regarding these issues also may likely run out well before your retirement.
Under “Agreements to apply transportation law to provincial railways,” section 157.1 (1) of the Bill, it states that:
“The Minister may enter into an agreement with a provincial minister responsible for transportation matters providing for the administration, in relation to persons who operate railways within the legislative authority of the province, of any law respecting
(a) accident investigations and railway crossings; or
(b) railway noise and vibration, or the regulation of the rates and conditions of service of railway companies, to the extent that those matters are governed by this Act.”
We do agree that we well might be entering the next golden age of rail. We predict it will be one marked by increased regulation to better enforce safety in rail operations, while protecting the public and the environment from any railway executive that believes that “all that matters is money.”
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