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“This Blog Needs the Railway Point of View”

by on September 30, 2010

We have recently received some comments from Mr. Jeff Willsie, President of the Ontario Southland Railway stating thatthis blog needs the railway point of view.”

Mr. Willsie submitted his comments after our recent post, Leasing a Loophole, made mention of the railway he leads. We have posted Mr. Willsie’s comments and opinions accordingly, and thank him for his time in contacting us.

Just to recap, Mr. Willsie’s first comment appeared under the post, Defective Rail Cars a Safety Concern for Communities.

“The first train arrived in St Thomas in 1881 long before Mr Bickelky moved in.
If Mr Bickley does not like to live by the railway he should move. There is nothing going on on the railway that has not been happening for well over 125 years.
As oil costs increase more , more freight will travel by rail.If it were not for rail there would be no Cami or Toyota plants in this are, bringing in millions of dollars of economic bennefit.If Mr Bickley does no like the whistle he can lobby for a whistle bylaw, as for vibration & noise he can move, the railway cannot.”

Mr. Willsie’s second comment appeared under the post, Hello World.

“The Railways have been in most of their locations for in excess of a hundred years. When folks move in next to a railway they can expect noise & vibration.
If they do not like the railway issues they should move.
As oil disapears the railways shall have much larger volumes of traffic.Stop building residential next to the railway.24-7 Thats the railway operating time just like trucks.”

In response to Mr. Willsie’s comments, we note that the Ontario Southland Railway is a member of The Railway Association of Canada (RAC); on that basis, we would like to review the following statements that reference railway proximity issues:

(1)  From a Communique issued by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities December 2008, on the agreement being reached with the RAC to extend a Memorandum of Understanding concerning railway noise, vibration, safety, and other proximity management issues for an open-ended term:

“It is in everyone’s interest to negotiate appropriate relationships between railways, cities, and communities, to plan ahead and resolve problems before they occur, and to develop mechanisms for resolving unanticipated issues.” – Mr. Jean Perrault, President of the FCM

“We have demonstrated a willingness to work together and an ability to solve problems that meet everyone’s needs…We know, from experience, that people can work together in the common interest.” – Mr. Cliff Mackay, President and CEO of the RAC


(2)  From The Canadian Transportation Agency’s website: Guidelines for the Resolution of Complaints Over Railway Noise and Vibration:

“The guidelines are designed to…encourage collaboration among parties to a railway noise or vibration issue”


(3)  From the RAC FCM 2008 Proximity Progress Report:

“Continuing co-operation is important to reducing conflicts within communities about railway operations”


In none of these relevant documents did we find any suggestion that people adversely affected by rail operations can (just) move, and we are equally as disturbed as enlightened in a way that we could not have anticipated.

On the basis of some of the references and links we have provided here, we think the contrast between the sentiments expressed by the RAC, FCM and CTA, of collaboration, co-operation, negotiation, and reducing conflicts versus an actual example of a member railway company faced with a community noise and vibration problem could not be more clear.

What does the point of view expressed by the President of Ontario Southland Railway say about the relationship that the railway has with its affected resident neighbours?

How does the point of view given constructively address the challenges that the railway is facing in the community?

We do agree with the comment about the importance of rail transportation, and its growth into the future.

However, we believe that is accompanied by the responsibility to take into account the impact of rail operations on resident stakeholders, in a reasonable way. People such as Mr. Bickley, noted in the Leasing a Loophole post, need to be treated as legitimate stakeholders in Ontario Southland Railway’s operations.

Furthermore, there are many more people out there like Mr. Bickley who have faced extremely difficult living circumstances due to rail operations, with complaints ranging from severely disrupted sleep, car alarms being set off at all hours, pictures knocked off walls, and severe air quality issues, to name but a very few.

A telling comment for us as to the extent of the roots of this problem was the comment Mr. Willsie made that “there is nothing going on on the railway that has not been  happening for well over 125 years.”

Please. This can’t be serious.

Customers such as Toyota as noted were not even in existence, steam locomotives were in use, freight was a fraction of what it is over a century later, and hours of operation often did not conflict with sleep, a basic necessity of  life.

We have also been contacted by people who have been affected by proximity issues initiated by railways expanding closer to residential interests.

The problem works both ways.

We have written about two examples of this in our blog – John Kristensen No Cando and Mirror, Alberta There’s Smoke in Mirror.

Moving is not a very viable or fair solution, and we question why residents solely should bear the brunt of problems with railway noise and vibration issues, and what should be done with all the real estate, and at whose expense?

Again, we thank Mr. Willsie for his comments. However, we believe that if this point of view is indeed “the railway point of view” it underscores the amount of work that the RAC needs to undertake in addressing and educating its member companies in order to create healthier community relationships, more in line with its stated goals and objectives it has indicated with the FCM.

We have heard repeatedly a need for an extension of the Railway Association of Canada’s and Federation of Canadian Municipalities “Proximity Guidelines and Best Practices” to be expanded to include a section on rail operations’  best practices within a community. In contrast, the guide currently addresses primarily new residential development in the footprint of rail operations.

With all due respect, the rather toxic atmosphere between affected residents and rail in Woodstock should serve as a measure and example of just how much has yet to be done in order to improve the relationship between the two and narrow the chasm that divides them.

We believe it can be done.

Back to you, RAC…

© Copyright 2010

  1. Jeff Willsie permalink

    First let’s look at the issues:

    Whistle noise – The law requires the whistle to be blown from the whistle post to the crossing. If the neighbours don’t like the whistle noise they can lobby the municipality in which they reside for a no whistle bylaw. The municipality would then get special insurance, usually 5 to 10 million to cover the liabilities involved (no liability would be placed upon the railway). One has to consider, however, if someone gets killed, was the ‘quiet’ for the neighbours worth the life lost?

    Vibration & train noise – Most large railways now operate over welded rail reducing vibration. The other option would be to reduce train speed. I believe the average speed for a car of potash from Saskatchewan to Putnam Ont. to be about 12 to 15 mph. I do not see lower speeds as an answer as most shippers see rail transit times as ridiculously slow already. The speed behind Mr. Bickley’s house is 10 mph, with welded rail & he is still complaining. I have a letter from the CP conductor on the former Woodstock Cami job describing Mr. Bickley running around with his stop watch & camcorder in his underwear at 0200 hrs trying to catch the crew breaking some rule. Now that paints a picture to me of an obsessed individual. We need to be realistic about railway vibrations and train noise – it is natural & should be expected.

    If a person moved next to the 401 & started complaining about the noise & vibration on the highway, do you think the MTO would do anything about it? I doubt it! So it would be my opinion there is nothing that can be done about rolling train noise & vibration.

    If anyone has a solution, let me know.

    I once went out with a girl who lived right next to the tracks in West London. Every time a train went by, the whole house shook. I asked why do you live here? The answer: cheap rent. Residential properties next to the tracks have a lower value. All of my neighbours moved in long after the railway started operating & most likely paid much less money than that property would be worth if not for the railway. Some 20 years ago there was an OMB hearing about PSTR extending operations on the existing railway Union to St Thomas. The neighbours were up in arms about noise, vibration, etc. The Ontario Municipal Board decided that the only effect an existing railway can have on the neighbours is if it is removed! Meaning, an existing railway has zero effect on the neighbours, as it was their choice to move in beside a railway.

    OSR has installed 4500 new ties Woodstock to Ingersoll to make the track safer.
    In 1973 there were 8 trains a day in &out of Woodstock on the St Thomas sub, Today there is 2 to 4. In my mind there are no train problems.

    Exhaust issues – The last few years both CN & CP have spent hundreds of thousands equipping locomotives with smart start systems eliminating excessive idling.

    Jeff Willsie

  2. Jeff Willsie permalink

    i would like to refute the comments after( please this cant be serious) In 1973 there were 25 to 45 cars a day of canned goods from Hienz ,6 days a week comming into Woodstock.there was way more freight comming into woodstock in 1973 than there is today. train jane is full of bull. i was there.The traffic was double of the traffic today, in 1973.train jane would like to see her opinion seen as gospel but she is full of bull. train jane will never beat the truth.
    J Willsie.

  3. Jeff Willsie permalink

    To Continue
    The problem works both ways.
    The problem is folks moving in beside the railway. They may be attracted by a cheaper price. In any case they are moving in beside the railway, the railway is not moving in beside them. I agree with you that new railway expansion should be examined by all interested parties, however where folks move in by an existing railway its buyer beware.CPs Agincourt yard was all farm land when it was built. Today it is surounded by development of all types.
    Last week i got a noise & vibration study for a church being built right beside OSR in a new subdivision.It said the church would shake when the train went by at 15 mph but this would be acceptable as per some guidelines. Also they said the train does not operate on weekends.
    They did bother to take into account that if customers wanted weekend sevice i would provide it. Further, if a lot of buisness developed I could fix up the track for 35 mph, the speed it was in 1980.
    Yon take Mr Bickley’s point of view without knowing the facts and, of course, the railways side of the story.
    I actually got a call from a neighbour of the railway, & of Mr Bickleys, saying they don’t agree with Bickley & neither do most of the other neighbours. After this I did a little survey of about 10 homes. 9 said they didnt care about the railway. 1 was a Bickley suporter but he was going to quit as the issue to him was sticking it to the big, rich, nasty CPR & now that the little guy was here he did not care. I dont suppose Mr Bickley ever mentioned when somebody pulled the emergency fuel cut off on 2 idling CP locomotives in the winter & they froze causing about $300,000 worth of damage. Locomotives dont have antifreez as all large diesels have a tendancy to leak a little coolant into the oil & water has little effect but antifreeze is glycol, sugar & this would destroy the bearings.
    Mr Bickley is realy wrong in thinking OSR & CPR did the shortline thing to derail his complaint to the CTA.
    He was never discussed in those talks. I had actually forgot about him until some government guy asked what I’m going to do with that crazy Mr Bickley.
    I have talked to many neighbours while walking the track & i ask how they feel about noise & vibration. They say they bought at a reasonable price & after a while they dont notice it.They are all happy im fixing it up.
    They are all friendly with the exception of Mr Bickley.
    I think it is bull that you automaticaly take his side without knowing the history & historic facts.
    In every issue there are different points of view, I think Mr Bickley just loves the fight as he has been doing it for 20 years or so.
    The Mennonite folks complained about a rough crossing damaging their buggy wheels. I shall rebuild that crossing next year & in the meantime i spent $2000 on rubber pads to get them through the winter.I do pay attention to real problems that can be reasonably resolved, but I don’t think Mr Bickleys problems can be resolved.CP put down welded rail behind his house.
    You chose to move in beside an existing railway, you chose to live with the noise & vibration it creates. You also chose to live with changing traffic patterns. Maybe 2 trains a day this year maybe 20 trains a day in 2 years.Maybe 100 mph passenger trains in 10 yrs
    The railway adjusts to the traffic offered.
    Jeff Willsie

  4. Brian Bickley permalink

    Greetings from Woodstock, Ontario!

    My name is Brian Bickley, and I have, since 1992, represented the residents in the area, with regard to the assembling operations of the Canadian Pacific Railway here in our city. I have gone through the collaborative process as required by the Agency’s “Guidelines for the Resolution of Complaints Concerning Noise and Vibrations”. My intent here is to divide my “experiences” in resolving resident’s concerns here in our city, in the format of three separate instalments.

    “All things must be done with decency and truth”

    Mr. Willsie identifies his comments as the “railway’s point of view” with regard to the “Leasing a Loophole” article. The “Leasing a Loophole” article is with regard to Decision No. 248-R-2010. Ontario Southland Railway Inc. has no other presence in Decision No. 248-R-2010 other than being the recipient railway of the lease.

    Since acquiring the lease of the St. Thomas Subdivision line, Mr. Willsie has taken it upon himself to submit six letters to the attention of the Complainant’s “case officer” while this procedure was still in litigation. This action on Mr. Willsie’s part to involve himself in this legal procedure, begs the question, why? Mr. Willsie had no legal right to introduce his presence into the procedure, other than what would be considered relevant to the lease. Considering that Mr. Willsie is now addressing information into the procedure he was not involved in, I am left with the conclusion, “The railway’s point of view” is also the point of view of the Canadian Pacific Railway. As a point of interest, Mr. Willsie’s letters to the Complainant’s “case officer” in this procedure, are copied to CP Rail’s legal department. The statements Mr. Willsie makes in the article “This Blog Needs A Railways Point of View”, are the same statements he makes in his attempt to influence a legal proceeding.

    The following are excerpts from those six letters.

    Letter 1:

    Mr. Willsie’s letter dated January 22, 2010, to the attention of Ms. Celine Dupont “case officer” (Canadian Transportation Agency) for the procedure. This submission is Mr. Willsie’s first submission since acquiring the St. Thomas Line operations from CP Rail on December 14, 2009 as identified by CP Rail’s submission into the Procedure, dated December 23, 2009.

    As a very important point of information, Mr. Willsie’s submission of January 22, 2010, was a direct result of the Complainant’s submission, January 12, 2010, to Transport Canada regarding OSR’s failure to comply to Section 103 (c) of the CROR over a heavily used pedestrian and vehicular Public Grade in the area. Mr. Willsie used this complaint for the expressed purpose of entering deceptive and defamatory information regarding the “character” of the Complainant’s representative, into the litigation proceedings. Please keep in mind that Mr. Willsie is giving the “railway’s point of view” as well as keeping CP Rail’s legal department updated on his submissions to the Agency.

    “On one occasion, many years ago, Mr. Bickley entered the Woodstock, CPR station in an aggravated state and complained about train noise and whistles and subsequently been asked to leave the property.” This is a false statement. One time I did enter the CP station but only after I knocked on the door and was waved in by a CP Rail employee. I was neither aggravated nor asked to leave.

    In fact, I had a productive conversation with that employee. Mr. Willsie stated that “Mr. Bickley shook his fist at me on the return trip.” This also is a false statement. He continues, “When I am locomotive engineer, my first priority is safety.” That is a false statement. Mr. Willsie failed to comply to the CROR over Hunter Grade when he was a CP Rail employee and his railway still fails to comply to the CROR over the same Grade as well as other Grades in the area. Mr. Willsie continues, “Since taking over the St. Thomas subdivision on December 14, 2009, Mr. Bickley’s constant scrutiny with clipboards and radar guns has continued and he has even kept up with his verbal abuse and harassment of the train crews but I will not let this compromise the safety of the trains and the communities I serve.”

    All of these are false statements. I do not use a clipboard. I do not have a radar gun. I have never spoken to any OSR rail employees or harassed them. I have never used verbal abuse in the fifteen years I have been dealing with CP Rail or OSR. Mr. Willsie ends this letter with his solution to residents’ concerns in this area.

    “If you don’t like the noise, move.”

    I have never submitted a noise complaint regarding OSR’s operations, yet Mr. Willsie uses noise as his format for discrediting myself, (Mr. Bickley) and defaming my character. Remember, Willsie represents “the railway’s point of view” and copies all of his submissions to the attention of CP Rail’s legal department.

    The issues of complaint are solely relevant to the CAMI Auto Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. This operation was started in 1989. The rail traffic Mr. Willsie refers to, in 1979, is on the Galt Subdivision line and did not consist of autotrack cars from a then non-existent auto plant.

    Mr. Willsie is confused.

    Letter 2:

    February 3, 2010: Mr. Willsie continues to repeat himself from his January 22, 2010 submission to the Agency. Willsie states, “Mr. Bickley’s claim that CP was failing to comply with the CROR Rule 103( c ) is ridiculous.” Now Mr. Willsie is speaking for CP Rail. He justifies his defence of CP Rail by stating, “Rule 103( c ) is an other than main track rule and as long as CP operated on the St. Thomas sub the track was a main track.”

    Here is what CP Rail’s legal department has to say about the St. Thomas Line. June 19, 2008: “The portion of the St. Thomas line from Mile 0.7 to Mile 0.0 (including the portion of track that is north of Hunter Street) is designated “non-main track.” Once again Mr. Willsie submits information that is false. Mr. Willsie states, “We live in a free country,” but apparently not free enough for the public to exercise their rights as defined in the Canada Transportation Act and the CROR.

    Letter 3:

    March 5, 2010: “In my opinion, Mr. Bickley is an obsessed individual who has too much time on his hands,” claims Willsie. He continues, “Mr. Bickley and his neighbours chose to live beside the railway. If they do not like the noise and vibration caused by the operations of the railway, they should move.” Once again, I have never submitted a noise or vibration complaint against OSR. Mr. Willsie is clearly speaking in defence of CP Rail and attempting to introduce his false statements into litigation. He continues to send these letters to the “case officer” at the Agency and copy these letters to CP Rail’s legal department.

    Letter 4:

    Copy of email from Dan Riordon, March 29, 2010: Mr. Riordon states, “We were there approximately 6 minutes when Mr. Bickley showed up in his mini van in his undergarments.” Mr. Riordon claims this observation was at 2:00 am. A tee shirt and sweat pants does not constitute “undergarments”. How was Mr. Riordon able to make such an observation at 2:00 am while it was dark and I was in my car all the time while he stood at the crossing? The next letter shows how Mr. Willsie loves to embellish even a falsification.

    Letter 5:

    April 14, 2010: Mr. Willsie states to the “case officer”, “I don’t know how other folks reading Mr. Riordon’s letter will view it but I see Mr. Bickley cruising about at 0200hrs. in his underwear, whining about train operation as a crazy, demented, obsessed, fanatic.”

    Be careful Mr. Willsie what you say about people. You would be wise to stick to the facts and the truth.

    Mr. Willsie continues, “On March 18, 2010, a Mr. Ralph Collins, on Hunter Street, called me to say that there had been an article written about Mr. Bickley and his problem with CP/OSR. I was not contacted by the Woodstock paper for my opinion, so I expect the article was one-sided.” The last article found in the Woodstock paper (Sentinel Review) was 2001. It was with regard to CP Rail long before OSR arrived in this area. Once again Mr. Willsie is wrong. Check it out Mr. Willsie. Contact the Sentinel-Review and when you get your fabricated story post it on this blog so everyone can read it.

    Letter 6:

    Mr. Willsie continues to emphasize his desire for complaining residents to move. This takes me to my conclusion.

    Mr. Willsie’s 6 letters, initiated by his letter of January 22, 2010 (Letter 1), are responses to our submission of January 12, 2010 to Transport Canada. OSR was in violation of Section 103( c ) of the CROR over Hunter Street Grade on that date. I was monitoring the crossing at that time. There was a vehicle stopped at the crossing. The following is quoted from that letter to Transport Canada.

    “At 1:32:20 secs., a pedestrian (young male) entered rail property from the east side and went around the last car so as to access the crossing. At 1:33:30 secs., I pulled out from Yeo Street to Hunter Street and stopped behind the mentioned vehicle at the crossing. At 1:34 am, the driver of the mentioned vehicle waiting at the crossing got out of his car, approached my car and said, “you can start your five minutes now”. I said that the train had been sitting in excess of 5 minutes already. He identified himself as the “hogger” who “for four years blasted his whistle every time he passed through the area.”

    I told him that I would pass that information on to Transport Canada. I asked him if he saw the pedestrian who entered the yard to access the grade and passed directly in front of his car. He raised both hands in the air and smiled saying nothing. I said I was submitting this as well to Transport Canada’s attention. He gave me the finger, told me to pound salt, and said that Transport Canada had no control over him. He said he knew me.

    He went back to his car, turned around and yelled an obscenity at me as he drove away. I had no idea who this man was until he made his submission of January 22, 2010 to the attention of Ms. Celine Dupont, “case officer” for the Procedure. You guessed it.

    It was Mr. Jeff Willsie, President of Ontario Southland Railway Inc.

    Considering Mr. Willsie’s incessant desire to have complainers move away, and his own efforts in “blasting his whistle every time he passed through, for four years” one can begin to understand the success Mr. Willsie has had in this area in removing so many residents from their homes. On my street alone, just in the last five years, 8 of the 11 residences have changed occupants. Since the initial operations of CP Rail and CAMI Auto Plant (1989), 21 residents have lived in those 11 houses, quite a turnover. There have been many turnovers of properties in the vicinity of CP Rail’s operations. I represented most of those residents over the past 15 years.

    Thank you for the space to tell my side of the story. I apologize for the lengthy instalment, but felt that it was necessary to identify and correct Mr. Willsie’s comments.

  5. Mike permalink

    I am a rail noise and vibration engineer researching rail noise guidelines around the world and find this discussion very interesting.
    The comments from both parties are echoed around the world , with the most prominent difference is most countries have noise objectives/criteria that limit the noise from rail operations.
    These limits require the owners of the railway to work towards reducing noise levels. They acknowledge that the noise levels may have been there for a significant period of time however also acknowledge the negative health benefits to people exposed to high noise levels. This typically results in noise abatement projects being put in place to reduce the noise levels over a given period (often about 5 years) The most important feature is to ensure noise levels do not increase above the existing levels.
    I think it is important that rail noise criteria are set so when there are complaints an operator has the right to defend the level of noise that is generated and so that residents can be sure that noise levels will not increase above a certain level. However more important is that adequate planning is considered so that residential areas aren’t built alongside potentially busy railway corridors.
    From an operator point of view it is becoming increasingly more expensive (and potentially not feasible) to significantly reduce noise levels. The dominant noise source (in Australia) is the exhaust stack which can cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars to effectively reduce noise levels. However the potentially most effective way to reduce overall noise levels is effective maintenance of the wheels and railhead. Studies in Europe have shown yearly maintenance of the railhead (and more regular maintenance of wheels) can effectively reduce noise levels by 5 dB to 10 dB. Whilst this maintenance may increase costs somewhat, it may also improve the life and quality of the rollingstock which has added benefits some operators are embracing.
    Can anyone tell me if tread-brakes or disc brakes are used in Canada?
    On a side note, typically the least noisy operating speed for freight operations is in the 40-50km/h (25-30mph) range. At this speed the passby time is increased, which reduces the length of exposure, however the speed is not fast enough to significantly increase noise from the wheel-rail interaction.
    Mike Allan

  6. trainjane permalink

    Thank you once again Mr. Willsie for your views concerning Mr. Bickley’s railway noise and vibration complaint, as it relates to our posts “Leasing a Loophole” and “This Blog Needs the Railway Point of View.”

    However, we find that what you don’t say to be just as interesting as what you do.

    The Core Issue:

    The core issue here is a citizen’s complaint being made to the Canadian Transportation Agency, (CTA) under the noise and vibration provisions of the amended Canada Transportation Act, 95.1 – 95.3.

    Mr. Bickley was exercising his right to have his complaint heard by the CTA, who would then presumably issue a decision as to whether or not the railway noise and vibration he was experiencing in around his Woodstock, Ontario home was reasonable.

    After he filed his complaint, and during the process of consideration of the matter by the CTA, the federally-regulated railway central to the dispute, Canadian Pacific Railway, leased out the area under dispute to your provincial short line railway, Ontario Southland Railway (OSR.)

    As provincially-regulated railways such as yours do not fall under the jurisdiction of The Canadian Transportation Agency, the dispute resolution process was effectively shut down and Mr. Bickley, shut out. CP Rail contacted the CTA to tell them of the lease, and sought to have Bickley’s complaint quashed accordingly.

    If you assert that Mr. Bickley is “realy (sic) wrong in thinking OSR & CPR did the shortline thing to derail his complaint to the CTA”, then, what’s your explanation for the rather, ah, awkward timing of this lease transaction?

    Further, if you disagree with Mr. Bickley, and believe that there are no justifiable grounds to his complaint, and the only alternative left for him is to move, there is a very simple solution to completely vindicate the railway, prove your point, and clear up the rather troubling aspect surrounding the timing of this deal.

    A Show of Good Faith:

    Why not ask the Canadian Transportation Agency to revisit their file on this situation, on a voluntary basis?

    Request, as a show of good faith to the community, that the Agency informally issue any recommendations that it would have otherwise rendered as part of an official Decision prior to the leasing arrangement concerning Bickley’s railway noise and vibration complaint, based on whatever merit that may or not be present in his complaint, and considering your railway’s operating requirements.

    As President of OSR, agree, in advance of the release of any such recommendations, to voluntarily accept and implement any such recommendations accordingly.

    The Truth:

    If there is no validity to the complaint, if your rail operations are reasonable in terms of noise and vibration, there would be no repercussions to your company.

    So, on the basis of your point of view regarding this issue, what could you be worried about?

    This would effectively resolve the issue and be a very positive message about your company and its value it places upon its relationship with the community.

    You talk of truth Mr. Willsie…well, this would an irrefutable method of finding it.

    Out of Interest:

    We note that you formerly worked for CP Rail, the company that leased out the disputed area of rail operations to Ontario Southland Railway.

    To help us understand the background of this issue, when did you leave CP Rail?

    When did you become President of Ontario Southland Railway?

    A Blunt Question of Bylaws:

    We note your extensive knowledge of rail operations and regulations.

    However, you did not elaborate on the question referenced in our posting “Leasing a Loophole” concerning whether of not provincially-regulated railways are indeed subject to municipal bylaws, including noise bylaws.

    So, are provincially-regulated railways subject to municipal bylaws?

    We are hoping that you, as President, could shed some light on that, either way.

    It’s a very important question…because, if provincially-regulated railways are indeed subject to local legislation, including noise provisions, could this mean that Ontario Southland Railway took over a lot more than just control of a section of track from CP?

    What’s the railway’s point of view on this?

    • Walter Pfefferle` permalink

      Railway Point of View

      Yes both parties should try an work together to reach an agreement but when one party is set in their thinking and has nothing better to do than complain every week about something it is hard to make any headway.

      Mr. Bickley should be complaining about car and motorcycle noises which are much louder than any noises made by the trains. Maybe he will turn his attention next to the traffic on Dundas Street and see if he can get a “no car” zone.
      What about the factories just across the tracks from where he lives who operate 24 hours a day?

      I live closer to the tracks than Mr. Bickley does and hardly even hear the train go by or them switching cars in Beachville. I am more disturbed by barking dogs, loud cars and motorcycles than I am by the train. Those noises go on day and night but the train only goes by once or twice and in the middle of the day.

      Why is it that the hundreds of other people living in that area are not writing letters to you and the CTA and complaining? Maybe they actually have a life and the trains have always been there and are no big deal.

      I am not sure what noise Mr. Bickley is complaining about as modern railway cars have cushion couplers and it is next to impossible to bang them together. Also rolling switching where cars were switched out and let roll until contacting another car is no longer used and all switching is done with the cars still connected to the engine.

      I find it very hypocritical of Mr. Bickley to complain about railways when he has the “Woodstock West” station name sign hanging on the side of his house.

      It is time for Mr. Bickley to get a life and he will not hear those noisy railways.

      Where did you come up with this gem “the federally-regulated railway central to the dispute, Canadian Pacific Railway, leased out the area under dispute to your provincial short line railway, Ontario Southland Railway (OSR.)” in order to short circuit the complaint?

      I am ssure it had nothing to do with CP wanting to get rid of the line. OSR has been bidding on that line for years.

      Walter E. Pfefferle
      Beachville Ontario

  7. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Mike

    I certainly agree that new development must be kept away from the railway, Even though the railway association of Canada is trying to work with planning
    folks, municipalities are allowing residential right beside the tracks. It is my opinion that for persons moving in, right beside an existing track, they must be prepared to live with the whistle noise, train noise & vibration. The specific problem in Woodstock is a person who has been whining for 20 years.
    The person is Mr Bickley. It would be my opinion that he is a nutbar. Really what can you say about a guy who runs around at 0200 hrs in his underwear with his stop watch & camcorder trying to catch the train crew breaking some rule.
    The track speed is currently 10 mph & CPR put in 115 lb welded rail to ease vibration. I see nothing more that can be done.Do you Mike? I have never heard of extreme stack exhaust, but now Mr Bickley will likely add this to his list.
    Anything further shall be at Bikley’s cost as he moved in beside the railway. If he doesn’t like the railway he can move. The railway can not.

    Jeff Willsie

  8. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    You know who i am
    Who are you & what is your experience
    Jeff Willsie

  9. trainjane permalink

    Hello Mr. Willsie,

    Despite your numerous comments, the core issues central to our “Leasing a Loophole” and “This Blog Needs a Railway Point of View” remain completely unaddressed.

    Those issues are:

    1) The leasing out of a section of rail line while a noise and vibration complaint filed by Woodstock resident Brian Bickley was being reviewed by the Canadian Transportation Agency, effectively shutting down the dispute resolution process. A federally-regulated railway, CP Rail, (your noted former employer) leased out the area under dispute to a provincial railway company, (Ontario Southland Railway), of which you are now President. Provincial Railways are not under the jurisdiction of the Agency; Bickley’s complaint not only remains unresolved, but compounded by an atmosphere of controversy surrounding the timing of the lease, while in the midst of a formal process with a regulatory authority.

    2) We then asked if provincial railways such as the one that you head, Ontario Southland Railway, are subject to municipal bylaws including noise bylaws. That question also remains outstanding.

    3) We also addressed the relationship between the railway and the community, given the nature of the outstanding complaint, and what could be done. Apparently, the dispute resolution process currently in place at OSR is simply to prod residents negatively affected by rail operations into moving, a stance quite in contrast to a more conciliatory approach being taken by the Railway Association of Canada, of which your company is a member. How do you explain this discrepancy in approach, and how is this reasonable?

  10. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    I see you do not want to identify yourself.
    For such an opinionated person you seem to know little about railways, perhaps that is why you keep asking me such simple questions.

    Your issues:
    These are only issues in your mind. Folks who move in beside a railway can either put up with the sounds & vibration of the railway or move. The railway is not going to move. Mr Bickleys problems will never be resolved unless he moves.
    I disagree with the ideology that you have cooked up in your mind. The railways are not responsible to their neighbours.
    The railways are responsible to the government bodies that are their boss so to speak. The Boss for OSR is Transport Canada. OSR is required to follow the federal rules & is not subject to provincial or local bylaws.
    This is because someone intelligent, in the federal government decided there should be only one set of federal rules, as much as possible, for railways so every Tom, Dick, Harry, train Jane, & Bickley could not tell the railways what to do. Ofcourse that set of rules is not cast in stone & that is why the CTA can not rule on OSR. Mr Bickley & yourself however can whine to Transport Canada. Mr Bickley has been complaining to Transport Canada for 20 years to no avail. It is my opinion that Transport Canada probably sees Mr Bickley in the same light as I do.
    OSR does belong to the RAC but that does not mean I can’t have my opinion on issues. The RAC, CN, CP and government agencys have to be politicaly correct.I dont.
    The way I see it, if the city slicker moves to the country, builds his nice new house next to the farmers manure pile & pig barn ,he shall be smelling (xxxx) till he decides to move!
    Train Jane, you won’t identify yourself. With your demanding letters I think you may be a person looking to represent these persons who chose to move beside the railway. The government is not going to do anything that will adversly affect the railways. In my opinion in 100 yrs the government will be building nuclear power plants to electrify the railways.
    Jeff Willsie

    • trainjane permalink

      Mr. Willsie, the subject of this blog revolves around railway noise and vibration issues, and environmental concerns pertaining to rail operations.

      We’re here to look at some of the problems, solutions, and circumstances currently outstanding in various locales. Woodstock is one of those locales, and the issue surrounding the jurisdictional aspect of Mr. Bickley’s complaint has potentially far-reaching implications for other communities across Canada.

      That’s why what happened to Mr. Bickley is so important.

      How we choose to present ourselves on this site is our business frankly. We’re here to consider important issues that affect both communities and rail transportation.

      This site provides a diversity of opinion, of which we encourage, but we’re not interested in the denigration of larger issues into smaller, more personal ones.

      That’s what you need to know, or perhaps, just be reminded of.

  11. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Re Mr Bickley
    Please complain to transport Canada. Im shure you shall get the appropriate response.
    Jeff Willsie

  12. Brian Bickley permalink

    Decision No. 248-R-2010.

    Hi once again from Brian Bickley in Woodstock, Ontario. The following is my second installment.

    The legal arbitration (Procedure) between the Complainant (residents near the rail yard) and the Canadian Pacific Railway concerning “noise and vibration” issues pursuant to Section 95.1 of the Canada Transprtation Act, reveals a very disturbing application of the legal process by CP Rail’s legal department in the “Procedure”. The resultant loophole (the lease) used by CP’s legal department was an act of desperation on their part so as to exit a legal proceeding they had lost. I believe the following information corroborates this statement.

    Just prior to the “Procedure”, the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) proposed “Mediation” between the Complainant and Canadian Pacific Railway (Respondent). As Representative of the Complainant I was encouraged to take this avenue for resolving the complaints. The Agency’s legal department submitted an “Agreement To Mediate” requiring signatures from the Representative of the Complainant and the Respondent. The agreement stated, “This is an agreement between Mr. Brian Bickley representing citizens of Woodstock, On. near the CP Rail Woodstock yard, and Mrs. Janice Erion representing CP Rail and Mr. Andre Paquette & Mrs. Nancy Viau, CTA mediators, to enter into the process of mediation.”. Shortly after this agreement was signed, I recieved a copy of the Agency’s “Guidelines For the Resolution of Railway Noise and Vibration Complaints Under the Canada Transportation Act.”. The “Guideline’s” emphasis was on the collaboration process between the two parties. “Should the parties be unsuccessful in their attempts to resolve an issue through collaborative measures, they may, on agreement, request the mediation services of the Agency.”. Considering that three site meetings (collaborative processes) revealed existing CTA. Transport Canada, and CP Rail’s own exisitng resolutions to all of these concerns, I questioned legal right for either party to request mediation. If I was to enter into mediation with CP Rail I would be saying that the collaborative process was unsuccessful in resolving the complaints and thereby nullifying the already existing resolutions. I noted this concern to the Agency’s legal department and withdrew my agreement to mediate. The Agency responded by proceeding directly with the “formal application process” (Procedure). CP Rail submitted “that the Application should be dismissed by the Agency.”. On June 19. 2008 CP Rail’s legal department submitted their first defense consisting of 12 pages and 9 indexes.

    Like magic, the legal representative for CP Rail, the one who signed a legal agreement to mediate with “Brian Bickley, representing citizens of Woodstock, On. near the CP Rail Woodstock yard….” made the Complainant (citizens of Woodstock, On. near the CP Rail Woodstock yard) disappear. In their place was a singular complainant, the Representative, Mr. Brian Bickley. All of Janice Erion’s addressing of the complaints were relative to a singular complainant, with a singular geographical location to the source of the complaints. Instead of addressing the complaints from the geographical points of concern as evident by the many residents that made up the “Complainant” in the Procedure, CP’s legal department opted to leave out the Complainant so as to minimize as much as possible the negative impact their railway was really having in the area. All submission over these many years, as well as entering into mediation and a “formal procedure”, were clearly identified as “Brian Bickley, Residents’ Representative.”. CP Rail’s legal department never challenged this known fact until I questioned their format for eliminating the Complainant for purposes of minimizing the negative impact of the complaints. After resolving the matter of Complainant and Representative, CP Rail was left with no evidence addressing the real Complainant. The Agency’s arbitrators requested further evidence from CP Rail’s legal department . CP Rail did not respond , at least not for our records, and were left with the existing resolutions (operational procedures and regulated requirements) for addressing the Complainant’s concerns. Seven months later they introduced their loophole, a lease of the St. Thomas Line (source of Complainant’s concerns) to a Provincial railway for purposes of ending the Procedure. Five months later the Agency rendered its decision. The Procedure was moot.

    CP’s legal format for their attempt at “winning” this Procedure certainly raises concern as to their legal ethics or lack thereof, as well as their indifference to the “citizens of Woodstock, On. near the CP Rail Woodstock Yard.”. This action on the part of CP Rail’s legal department may very well have been an “obstruction of a legal process” as a result of their willful intent to eliminate the complainant from their own legal procedure.”. My final installment will address the “win” for the Complainant found in CP Rail’s legal brief of October 29, 2008. Mr. Willsie continues to defame my character while his railway continues to be found in failure to comply to the CROR in Woodstock, Ontario.

    I would like to leave you with the following transcript (October 4, 1999) from CP Rail’s own Public Affairs Officer’s Minutes from our first Site Meeting (September 7, 1999). The concerns of CP Rail’s failure to comply to Section 103 (c) of the CROR over Public Grades in the area, especially Hunter Grade, by Transport Canada’s A/Chief of operations, Mr. Mario Peloquin, addresses these concerns as “an urgency as a result of a recurring unsafe situation, with obvious safety implications and regulatory requirements”, and a need on the railway’s part to “ensure complianace with the appropriate regulations.”l CP Rail continued in their failure to comply to the CROR and now OSR follows suit. Here is how CP Rail addressed this urgent, on-going safety concern and admonition from Transport Canada. “Topic: Blockage..Q1-Why after TC Admonitions in these letters (past correspondence) does the railway still continue to block Hunter Street? Responses….Q1-On occasion due to equipment failures St. Lawrence & Hudson Railway has blocked crossing in excess of the prescribed time frame outlined in the CROR. It has been further explained that when such blockage occurs, the RTC (Rail Traffic Controller) will advise Emergency Services of the blockage to advert any delay in case of an emergency in the area.”. Mr. McKechnie completely avoids answering the question (TC Admonitions) , makes the complaint appear to be in the past (past correspondence), and that any blockage of such crossing is resultant of “mechanical failure”, and not the railway’s failure to comply to the requirements of the CROR.
    He ignores the public safety concern and admonitions by the A/Chief of operations for Transport Canada and in so doing allows this serious safety concern to continue. Mr. Gerry McKechnie, Public Affairs Officer willfully ignored the residents’ right to a transparent answer to their question. Janice Erion willfully ignored the Complainant in the Procedure as well as their legal right to having their concerns resolved under litigation.

    Thank you for the time and the space.

  13. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi mr Bickley
    You shall have to complain to Transport Canada about all your perceived issues.
    Jeff Willsie

  14. Brian Bickley permalink

    HI, Brian Bickley here with my third and last installment regarding Decision No.248-R-2010

    In my two previous installments I have touched upon the isues of “outside intervention” by Mr. Jeff Willsie (President of Ontario Southland Railway Inc) into the Procedure, and the attempt by CP Rail’s legal department to eliminate the Complainant (“citizens of Woodstock, On. near the Woodstock rail yard”), from their own Procedure for sole purpose of minimizing the negative impact of the complaints to a singular Complainant, Mr. Bickley, the Complainant’s Representative. Much of the addressing of the complaints in the Procedure by the arbitrators was set aside when CP’s legal department turned the Procedure into a “Representation” concern. On June 19, 2008, CP Rail’s legal department submitted the first of two responses into the Procedure. Please keep in mind that there were only three issues of concerns relative to Section 95.1 of the Canada Transportation Act in the Procedure.
    Two of those concerns had existing operational procedure requirements for CP Rail, clearly identified in the Minutes of the Site Meetings (Canadian Transportation Agency’s own guidelines for a collaborative process for the resolving of concerns). Upon request by CP’s legal department for evidence of “representation” and “residents’ group” the Agency, on January 8, 2009, requested this information from Mr. Bickley, with the admonition that, “Should you decide not to provide this information, your application will be considered incomplete and the Agency will not proceed with this matter, unless you confirm that you wish to proceed as an individual personal applicant in your own name.” CP’s legal department had already submitted two volumes of evidence as the Respondent in this Procedure, June 19. 2008 and October 29, 2008, and now on January 8, 2009 the Agency is saying that the “application” is considered “incomplete”. The “application” was addressed as “Brian Bickley, Residents’ Representative”. Why did CP Rail’s legal department not request this “representation and residents’ group” prior to the Procedure considering the fact that the “application” identified Brian Bickley as the Residents’ Representative. Surely CP Rail’s legal department would not have missed this information because of an oversight. The lawyer who ignored this fact had previously signed an “Agreement to Mediate” with “Brian Bickley, representing citizens of Woodstock, Ontario, near the Woodstock rail yard and Janice Erion of CP Rail’s legal department with Nancy Viau and Andre Paquette of the Agency’s legal department.”, over these very issues in the Procedure. This Agreement to Mediate” was drawn up by the Agency’s own legal department, already acknowledging Brian Bickley as “representing citizens of Woodstock, Ontario near Woodstock rail Yard”, and agreed upon by Janice Erion of CP’s legal department and the Agency’s own legal department. After resolving the issue of “representation” the Agency requested further evidence from CP Rail’s legal department. CP Rail’s legal department submitted nothing until December 23, 2009. Clearly the existing evidence in CP’s two submissions held no significant value since CP’s legal department had singularized the complainant to the Representative and made the “Representative’s” residence the geographical recipient of the noise and vibration issues in the Procedure. The Agency responded that they would commence the arbitration by May of 2009. Just short of one year after CP Rail’s first submission of June 19, 2008, , the “application” was considered complete by the Agency. I hope the readers of this submission clearly see what was really going on in this Procedure up to this point. During the time frame of June 2009-December 2009, I submitted two phone calls requiring information to the attention of the “case officer”, as directed by the Secretary. “Should you have any questions relating to this case, you may contact Celine Dupont, by telephone at………”. I made two phone calls both of which were not returned. I sent several concerns to the Secretary, all of which were not responded to. On December 23, 2009, I received a fed-ex with a copy of CP Rail’s leasing of the St. Thomas Line to Ontario Southland Railway claiming that the “lease” made the Procedure moot. I requested a copy of the lease as I had several concerns with this move by CP’s legal department in destroying this Procedure. I eventually recieved several pages of blacked out information. CP Rail claimed “confidentiality” to the lease as “highly confidential commercial agreements” would be “placed on public record and be available for any person to access.”.

    From December 23, 2009 to June 11, 2010 (date of Decision No. 248-R-2010) CP Rail continued to let OSR use CP locomotives and CP freight cars on the St. Thomas line. On page 6 of “Grant of a Lease”, Section 2.02, subsection (x) under the title “Assets Excluded from the Leased Property”, it states, “locomotives, freight cars, and mechanical equipment.”. Several submissions to the Agency questioning the presence of CP locomotives and CP freight cars on the St. Thomas line went unanswered. On June 11. 2010 the Agency submitted Decision No 248-R-2010.

    CP’s legal Department left out the “citizens near the Woodstock rail yard” from their own Procedure! When the “citizens near the Woodstock rail yard” were acknowledged and given their rightful place in their own Procedure, CP’s legal department destroyed their Procedure. After destroying the Complainant’ Procedure, OSR paraded CP locomotives and CP freight cars behind the Complainant’s properties. The Agency gave sufficient time from aclnowledging the “Representation issue and the Residents’ Group” for CP Rail to find a way out of the Procedure. During that time frame the Agency ignored the Complainant’s legal Representative and his concerns. CP Rail’s legal department entered into the Procedure
    with deliberate intent of leaving the “citizens of Woodstock, On. near the Woodstock Yard” out of their own Procedure. The Agency’s legal department acquiesced to CP Rail’s request for evidence of representation, and proceeded to ignore the concerns of the Representative for the Complainant, giving the Railway sufficient time to find a loophole and get out of the Procedure. I believe from my experience in this Procedure that after the “Representation” issue was resolved, the “wheels fell of of CP’s case” and that both CP Rail and the Agency wanted this Procedure to end in a way by which the complaints in the Procedure would not have to be addressed. At this point I wish to say that I am not without legal counsel in these matters.

    I conclude with our victory in this Procedure, yes, it did end in a victory for the “citizens of Woodstock, On. near the Woodstock rail yard”. CP Rail’s legal department jumped ship before their boat went down. When CP Rail was asked for additional evidence by the Agency, the Agency also requested infromation regarding CP Rail’s “Future Plans” in Woodstock, Ontario. “As stated above, CP has purchased a strategic block of land adjacent the Galt Subdivision at Mile 70 and has commenced some initial construction. CP will have the ability to add tracks at this location. The main purpose of purchasing the land and planning to construct additional tracks is to add capacity for CP’s automotive traffic. The new location does not have the same constraints as Woodstock Yard in terms of numerous public road crossings. CP will have the ability to construct longer tracks to more efficiently build trains and reduce the amount of switching performed at numerous separate locations with short tracks. In CP’s future plans, trains carrying Autorack Cars from CAMI plant will go directly to the new location, rather than waiting in the Yard (split between multiple tracks) for a Galt Subdivision train. This will reduce the amount of switching and handling of Autorack cars performed in Woodstock Yard.”.

    The “boldened” sentence in this statement is with regard to Transport Canada and Section 103 ( c ) of the CROR and both CP Rail’s and OSR’s continuing falure to comply to the requirements of this Rule. In 1995 and 1996 the A/Chief of Operations for Transport Canada identified this continual failure to comply to this Rule by the railway as an “obvious safety” concern with “regulatory requirements” and an “urgency in seeking a solution to the problem”, “assuring preventative action against recurrence of the situation” considering “this blocking of the crossing continues to occur.”. Today is October 18, 2010. My last submission to Transport Canada regarding this same concern was on October 14, 2010. During this time frame commencing November 23, 1995 up to October 14, 2010 there have been voluminous submissions of this concern of the railway’s failure to comply to the Rule over public grades in Woodstock, Ontario. Who is really looking out for the safety concerns in this city over these continual violations to the Rule. If it were not for the dedication of residents in this area for maintaining safety at these grades, there would have already been a catastrophe in this area. It is not however, the responsibility of the Public to ensure safety at these crossings. It is the railway’s and Transport Canada’s responsibility. What happened to Transport Canada’s admonitions of 1995 and 1996 to CP Rail in clearing this matter up? It was ignored by CP Rail and okayed by Transport Canada. The very reason for CP’s “future plans” is because of Section 103 ( c ) of the CROR and the ongoing failure of their railway and OSR’s railway to comply to the Rule and in so doing making these crossings safe. This cannot be assured by either the railway or Transport Canada. Fifteen years of railway failures to comply to the Rule and fifteen years of Transport Canada’s failure to ensure the rule corroborates what we have been saying over these many years, it simply cannot be done on a consistent basis and without public monitoring, and that the work area for the railway’s assembly operation is too small with too many close public grades and too much encroachment by such a large railway operations. CP Rail corroborates this fact in their own “Future Plans” statement. Presently the railway has built their operations around the residents west of the public grades literally placing all of these residential properties within the confines of the Woodstock rail Yard. All of these residents are in a rail yard!! Their health, their safety, their properties are being ignored by political dignitaries who “sympathize with our problems but are unable to help”, by a railway who left them out of their own Procedure, by legal arbitration that limited their numbers and allowed their Procedure to slip through a legal crack opened up by CP’s legal department, and by Transport Canada who continues to allow their safety to be jeopardized. We are expecting theser “Future Plans” of CP Rail to come to fruition sooner than later. We are expecting our government to step up to the plate and deliver.

    Thank you for your time and space. I hope that our experience will help anyone who has to go through what we have experienced, correction, still experiencing.

  15. Grinder-RCU permalink

    Why not close Hunter St. to the public so the trains won’t have to blow their whistles for the crossing?.

    • trainjane permalink

      We take it that this refers to the problem in the Woodstock area, correct?

  16. Denise Laitinen permalink

    Jeff Willsie’s comments are as helpful as the trolls postings on social sites like Yahoo. Mr, Willsie your comments are not condusive to any mature discussion of these issues and you might find more fun and opportunity to troll people on Yahoo or some similar site on the internet.

    I am wondering why this troll is being allowed to comment.

    Quote: Hi Train Jane
    I see you do not want to identify yourself.
    For such an opinionated person you seem to know little about railways, perhaps that is why you keep asking me such simple questions End Quote

    Most people did NOT move in next to double tracking and the weight of todays trains, nor the frequency of them. It makes me angry when someone says “you moved in next to the track” Yes a single track in those days, with trains that didnt weigh as much as they do today, didnt travel as fast through these areas and there WASNT double or multiple tracking in the areas either. Nor was there the frequency of trains there is today.

    THAT is a ridiculous comment and not one that would carry any weight in court.

    Thats as ridiculous as telling people who bought a house on a quiet street that was later turned into a 6 lane freeway “oh well you knew a street was there”

    The issue facing people today, who have had their quality of life destroyed, is expansion by the CN and other rail companies, to accomodate higher traffic, heavier trains etc with no consideration or concern for the residental areas they travel through.

    The responses from the railroad companies only serves to empahsize how ignorant they are, suggesting people should move etc.

    How anyone could be so ignorant as to say operations havent changed in the past 125 years is stunning in its ignorance.

    I find it disgusting that a person presenting himself as representing the rail companies would say it is only 1 resident in an area. The rail companies standard MO is to then harass, threaten, and try to bully and intimidate that one resident who becomes their scape goat. The rail companies and those person allegeding to be representative of rail companies KNOW they are operating without any consideration for residents.

    Their tactic is “if this person neighbours witness and are aware of our harassment they will be reluctant or afraid to speak out in case we start harassing, threatening, attempting to intimidate and bully them too”. Neighbours will now blame this person for the trains now whistling and ringing their bells when they pass throught their area at night.

    Ministry of Transporatation guidelines specfity 1/4 miles from a crossing for whistles, the regulation whistles 2 longs, a short and a long. It is NOT a mile from the crossing, and anywhere from 2 to 6 short blasts of the whistles, nor do the regulations state “ring the bell repeatedly a mile from the crossing and then stop ringing it when you have passed the residence of the person who has filed a complaint against the rail company with the company and the Ministry of Transportation.”

    I find this “door to door survery” by the rail company laughable and a mockery of the health issues facing residents living in close proximity to todays rail traffic. I cannot believe someone who would post such nonsense represents in any recognized or official capacity any rail company.

    I believe what has led to this fairly new problem in Canada is that most of our railroad companies have been sold to American companies who feel they dont have to obey Canadian laws and regulations.

    • trainjane permalink

      Just a quick point…CN and CP are still Canadian companies…
      As for the nature of some of the comments that get posted here, we think it is important to show both sides of the issues being faced. The reponses certainly have been illuminating to say the least, haven’t they?

  17. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Well quite an interesting bunch of folks. If i was living right beside a railway & i thought it was affecting my health, i think id move rather than trying for 20 years , to change things.
    The fact is the raiway can be slow or very busy. In the 40s lots of trains, in the 90s few trains, 2006 the railway has so many trains it has to double track. Thats the nature of the railway.If you folks realy think the government is going to stop the railways from hauling more traffic,you should think again.The government is not going to do anything to adversly affect the movement of the freight. If you dont like living beside the railway you should move.This is the only quick solution to your problem.Complaining for 10 or 20 years with little or no change is the other option.
    At a railway conference a few years ago a person from the Ontario ministry of food & agriculture said he thinks that within 50 years the Ontario government will be paying CP to double track the line Windsor to Toronto. I think the government is very pro railway & this will be very evident in the years to come.
    You can electrify the railways! You cannot electrify the 401.
    As for the closing of Hunter St in Woodstock, i believe the city was considering it but Mr Bickley objected.
    Go figure.
    O yes Denise. I represent my railway Ontario Southland Railway. The politicaly correct RAC represent CN & CP.
    I think about the neighbours i drive the train by just as much as the trucker driving down the 401 thinks about the folks living next to the freeway.
    If you want a quick, permanent solution to your problem,MOVE!
    Jeff Willsie

    • trainjane permalink

      …or legislate that provincial railways are subject to similar noise and vibration provisions and regulations that federal railways are…

    • goldspike permalink

      As President of Ontario Southland Railway, why is your railway a member of The Railway Association of Canada if you hold the RAC in such poor regard?

  18. Stephen C. Host permalink

    Wow. Just Wow. First of all, folks, why all the scrutiny of Railway operations in Woodstock, Ontario? Certainly this situation is not unique, there are plenty of other shortlines, leased operations, and mainline track within spitting distance of homes, that is why the Railway Association of Canada has created their website to assist in railways and the public getting together on the issues at large.

    Secondly — Mr. Willsie makes a very valid point — TrainJane — you need to identify yourself using your real name if you want any true credibility. Newspapers require real names to be used for editorial comments, and yours would be welcome if you wish the same credibility your writing demands. This site is a blog, and i bet it only costs you $50/yearly to run it, so if you want to present yourself under an ‘alias’ for your business, you may do so. Mr. Willsie is a small business operator, and invests millions of dollars in railways so that local Ontario communities benefit from the Railway and the jobs that depend on it. Mr. Willsie also uses his real name. You tell me who has more credibility.

    Thirdly — Mr. Willsie is right — operations have not changed much over 125 years. The number of trains on the line today are still about the same it always has been. Moreover, while the engines have changed (Steam to Diesel), and passenger traffic is no longer existent, the same issues face the railway today: How do you avoid collisions with pedestrians, and vehicular traffic? When a 3 car passenger train entered a crossing in 1954, versus a 60 car freight of today, the same problem exists: You have the potential for an accident. Railways sound their horns in order to warn motorists, and the Canadian Transportation Act gives railways the right of way which requires use of horns to sound the warning.
    A 1 car train or a 60 car train still cannot stop in time to save a life, when someone makes the decision to cross a railway line in front of a moving train.

    There are procedures in place to enact laws to reduce use of horns, such as a no-whistle bylaw — which requires cooperation between the Railway and the local Communitity to work, often requiring the Community to pay to upgrade railway crossing protection in order to provide safe operating conditions for railways and traffic alike. At a cost of $250,000 per crossing, this can be quite expensive and the taxpayers of Woodstock would have to be willing to pay for it.

    On the CTA complaint– you can all try to latch on to circumstantial evidence, such as the coincidence that this lease agreement happened to time with a formal CTA complaint, but in the 1997-1999 Canadian Pacific Railway three year rail network plan CPR had planned to ‘discontinue or transfer’ operations of the St. Thomas subdivision, and with all of the other shortlines created from branch line operations across Canada, you cannot, without any doubt say there was no forewarning that the line to St. Thomas would eventually be transferred to a shortline operator at some point.

    If the Canadian Pacific decided to use the transfer in a legal manner to avoid the complaint, that is an issue you should take up with CPR directly. Mr. Willsie is saving a shortline and preserving jobs, while other communities are losing their railways and their manufacturing competitiveness.

    In addition, do you realize that Welded Rail, such as the type the CPR installed in Woodstock to address complaint, is worth $1 million per mile, do you? Does this not prove that significant amounts of money have been spent to address the issue (vibration), and yet, the intense focus on a ‘problem’ still exists?

    Jeff and his team operate trains during regular (daylight) hours — over on the CPR branchline in Cambridge, CPR operates more frequent and longer trains, over jointed rail, and operate at all hours of the night. Locals know very well the number of jobs on the line and have learned to live with the noise and vibration, it’s the exact same problem, except in Woodstock, you have it easier, yet the intense focus on the issues still exist.

    Given the evidence at hand, when will reason enter the discussion — if two parties cannot come to an agreement, usually you have to part ways. Since the railway cannot move, and they have done plenty to attempt to mitigate the issue, it only stands to reason that neighbors that cannot live beside a railway for whatever reason, should move, and let those who don’t mind take their place, and solve the proximity issues that exist in a more reasonable fashion.

    Stephen C. Host
    Guelph, Ontario

    • trainjane permalink

      Mr. Host,
      Railway operations – namely the leasing of CP Rail’s interests to Ontario Southland Rail – are “under scrutiny”, to use your words, because what happened in Woodstock potentially has far reaching repercussions that could negatively affect other Canadian communities seeking relief from excessive railway noise and vibration from legislation passed in 2007.

      This legislation applies only to federal railways. The “loophole” is that it does not apply to provincial ones yet, at this point.

      In the midst of the investigation of a complaint about excessive noise and vibration in the Woodstock area, CP Rail leased out the “problem” area, and sidestepped having a public ruling being issued about its operations.

      The Canadian Transportation Agency then announced that it could go no further in the manner, and that caught our attention, as well as that of many others as well who could see attempts to regulate rail interest scuttled if what happened in Woodstock gets repeated.

      After having his right to having his complaint reviewed by the CTA derailed, the person central to this issue – Brian Bickley – now has an operator – Ontario Southland Railway – that has no plans to follow through on any sort of remedy in good faith to dispel any of the concerns or controversy, and seems not in the least interested in hearing about any sort of complaint about his railway.

      His sole remedy: Move!

      Woodstock now has a former CP Rail employee at the helm of a provincial railway that is determined that anyone who takes exception to how his operation is run can do exactly just that.

      Mr. Host, there is an awful lot of real estate in Canada at stake in this issue.

      We’re well aware of the proximity report you reference. We’ve had the link on this site for quite some time now. However, if you read some of our posts such as “No Cando” and “There’s Smoke in Mirror”, you will find that it is emerging as a situation akin to “Do as we say, but not as we do!” as we have just given you two examples of when rail interests decide not to apply proximity guidelines to their own development.

      The result? Residents in the first locale now have a rail yard being built in a rural area close to their homes – too close, and adjacent a nature conservancy. The later now has diesel locomotives idling up against their backyards.

      So, if railways don’t even bother to follow the guidelines that they helped create about proximity, why should the people this affects be blithely expected by rail interests to absorb the negative effects?

    • trainjane permalink

      As to the issue of credibility:

      If our credibility, or the credibility of this site was, in any way, in question, we doubt very much that you would have been compelled to have taken the time to write several very detailed accounts of your views and opinions and express them here, or that Mr. Willsie would have even given this site a second look.

      A lack of credibility tends to result in being ignored in one way or another…we’ve been anything but.

      Our credibility is further advanced in that we are not at all adverse to post comments from interests at odds with our own. We feel this promotes healthy discussion about various issues, rather than focusing on individual personalities.

      Many of the issues covered in this blog are complex, and/or controversial.

      We think it is important that those issues are opened up for discussion. We anticipate that The Amendments to The Canada Transportation Act, that were passed into law in June, 2007 concerning unreasonable railway noise and vibration, have the potential to become a flashpoint for change in the rail industry, and an opportunity to re-establish better relationships between railways and communities.

      It’s been a long time coming…

      • Walter E Pfefferle permalink

        Mountain out a Molehill

        I have read all of the letters in this string and am wondering how 40 seconds of horns can create such a controversary. OSR comes to town once a day and at times will have to break their train in two if it is too long to get into the yard. The 40 seconds includes going in and out of Woodstock twice. That leaves 1439 minutes and 20 seconds out of 1440 that there are no train horns.
        And the vibration part I don’t understand as mmodern rails cars have springs and create very little vibration. It is in the railways own interest to keep vibration to a minimum to reduce wear on the rails.

        Those of us who have lives don’t even notice the trains such as Mr. Bickley neighbours as he was unable to provide the names of anyone that had asked him to represent them in this matter.

        • goldspike permalink

          Very little vibration?

          You’re kidding, right? Having your home shake, having car alarms set off, pictures skewed or knocked off walls, to name but a few…that’s not “very little vibration,” but that is exactly what many people living near railways have to contend with on a regular basis.

          If railway vibration was such a minor issue, it never would have received all the attention that it did in Parliament in Ottawa, that resulted in this problem being regulated.

  19. Denise Laitinen permalink

    In 1992 a new management team led by ex-federal government bureaucrats, Paul Tellier and Michael Sabia, started preparing CN for privatization by emphasizing increased productivity

    The CN Commercialization Act was enacted into law on July 13, 1995, and by November 28, 1995, the federal government had completed an initial public offering (IPO) and transferred all of its shares to private investors. Two key prohibitions in this legislation include, 1) that no individual or corporate shareholder may own more than 15% of CN, and 2) that the company’s headquarters must remain in Montreal, thus maintaining CN as a Canadian corporation.

    the company also expanded in a strategic north-south direction in the central United States. In 1998, during an era of mergers in the U.S. railway industry, CN purchased the Illinois Central Railroad (IC), which connected the already existing lines from Vancouver, British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia with a line running from Chicago, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana. This single purchase of IC transformed CN’s entire corporate focus from being an east-west uniting presence within Canada (sometimes to the detriment of logical business models) into a north-south NAFTA railway (in reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement. CN is now feeding Canadian raw material exports into the U.S. heartland and beyond to Mexico through a strategic alliance with Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS).

    In 1999, CN and BNSF, the second largest rail system in the U.S., announced their intent to merge, forming a new corporate entity North American Railways to be headquartered in Montreal to conform with the CN Commercialization Act of 1995. The merger announcement by CN’s Paul Tellier and BNSF’s Robert Krebs was greeted with skepticism by the U.S. government’s Surface Transportation Board (STB), and protested by other major North American rail companies, namely Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and Union Pacific Railroad (UP). Rail customers also denounced the proposed merger, following the confusion and poor service sustained in southeastern Texas in 1998 following UP’s purchase of Southern Pacific Railroad (SP). In response to the rail industry, shippers, and political pressure, the STB placed a 15-month moratorium on all rail industry mergers, effectively scuttling CN-BNSF plans. Both companies dropped their merger applications and have never refiled. The roadblock dates back to the Carnegie era “robber barons” when the concept of “anti-trust” was born. Therefore, when it comes to railroad mergers, the federal government is more rigid than usual.

    Controversy arose again in Canadian political circles in 2003 following the company’s decision to refer solely to its acronym “CN” and not “Canadian National”, a move some interpret as being an attempt to distance the company from references to “Canada”, particularly in the United States, where Canada’s decision to not participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq was unpopular. Canada’s Minister of Transport at the time called this policy move “obscene” [5] after nationalists noted it could be argued the company is no longer Canadian, being primarily owned by American stockholders. The controversy is somewhat tempered by the fact that a majority of large corporations are being increasingly referred to by acronyms. Despite this, the company is still legally called the Canadian National Railway.

    Since the company operates in two countries, CN maintains some corporate distinction by having its U.S. lines incorporated under the Grand Trunk Corporation for legal purposes,[3] however the entire company in both Canada and the U.S. operates under CN, as can be seen in its locomotive and rail car repainting programs.


    Mr. David G.A. McLean, O.B.C., LL.D., is Chairman of the Board of Canadian National Railway Company and chair and Chief Executive Officer, The McLean Group (real estate investment, film and television facilities, communications and helicopter charters). He is a trustee of the Wetlands America Trust, Inc., the U.S. foundation of Ducks Unlimited. He is a member of the Institute of Canadian Studies at the University of California at Berkeley,

    Mr. Keith E. Creel is Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President of Canadian National Railway Co. Mr. Creel was Senior Vice-President, Eastern Region; Senior Vice- President of the Western Canada Region; Vice President of the Prairie Division; General Manager – Michigan Zone, Midwest Division. Mr. Creel began his railroad career at Burlington Northern Railway in 1992, before joining the Illinois Central Railroad in 1996. He came to CN as part of its merger with IC in 1999. He has since held a series of increasing responsibilities including general manager – Michigan Zone, Midwest Division, in June 2000 and vice-president of the Prairie Division in 2002, before the appointment for Western Region as senior vice-president from July 2003 to January 2004. Creel holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing/management from Jacksonville State University.

    Mr. Claude Mongeau is President, Chief Executive Officer, Director of Canadian National Railway Company. Mr. Mongeau became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company on January 1, 2010. In 2000, he was appointed Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer of the Company and held such position until June 1, 2009. Prior to this he held the positions of Vice-President, Strategic and Financial Planning and Assistant Vice-President, Corporate Development upon joining the Company in 1994. In 2005, he was selected Canada’s CFO of the Year by an independent committee of prominent Canadian business leaders. Prior to joining CN, Mr. Mongeau was a partner with Secor Group, a Montréal-based management consulting firm. He also worked in the business development unit of Imasco Inc. and as a consultant at Bain & Company. Mr. Mongeau has been a director of the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History and of Forces Avenir, which awards annual bursaries to Quebec university students. Mr. Mongeau is also a director of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.

    IMO the CN is predominantly owned by Americian stock holders, 2 of the 3 principal CEO’s are Americans and in my books that means control of the CN operations is in American hands

    Bill Gates is a major stock holder, MFS is another major Americian stock holder, there are share held by the BMO and the TD and some other investment companies in Canada but most are Americian or “International” with head offices in the USA

    Cn stocks are traded on the New York stock exchange as well as the Toronto exchange

    • trainjane permalink

      Thank you Denise for providing this background history about CN Rail. I would add that CN has since acquired the Chicago-area EJ&E Railway (Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern Railway.)

      The negative community impact of this acquisition has led to the formation of the Chicago-based citizen’s group TRAC, ( who are not prepared to readily accept the decline in the quality of life that CN’s presence has brought with it for many residents.

  20. Denise Laitinen permalink

    Interesting that Mr Willsie assumes people living in close proximity to rail tracks and suffering the repurcussions of double tracking are ALL renter and should “just move”

    What is your response to home owners who have seen their property values drop after double tracking and increased rail traffic, to the point of where they cant recover their intitial investment in their homes Mr Willsie? Should they also “just move” and abandon their investment?

  21. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    Canada is a free country so by all means try to push through that legislation. I do not think any government is going to restrict the arteries of the transportation network. I’m sure there were opponents of 6 laneing the 401 between Cambridge & Woodstock. It’s 6 lanes today!
    Denise. Real estate is an investment. Like all investments values go up & down. Location, location location governs the value of real estate. When buying real estate it is buyer beware. The railway nor the government are responsible for your bad investment decisions. Between Cambelville & Waterdown Ontario there was a branch line 2 trains a day 2 times a week for about 10 years. Beautifull rolling Niagara escarpment country. Folkes moved in, built million $ plus homes.CP decides to rebuild the line to main line standards & today runs 8 to 10 big trains a day 24-7. There were many, many unhappy rich neighbours. Too bad! I expect the train frequency will increase 10 to 15% over the next 10 years as this track, as it was in 1900 thru the 1970s is a busy main line again!
    Jeff Willsie
    Ontario Southland Railway

    • trainjane permalink

      Hello Mr. Willsie. We did push through that first round of legislation. Please check The Canada Transportation Act, 95.1-95.3.

      It’s been quite a shock after years of complacency for the railway industry, who chose not to self-regulate, and instead, had it done for them.

      The railways waited until the third reading of the Amendments in Parliament, hit the panic button, bypassed our elected Members of Parliament, and went to the Senate in a bid to get the bill watered down.

      We’re a patient lot Mr. Willsie. If these Amendments do not go far enough, it will not be the end of the issue, it will simply be revisited again.

      Interesting times ahead for all…It’s all about finding a balance that works.

  22. Stephen C. Host permalink

    Denise, how many home owners are blind when purchasing homes next to railway tracks? Do they not ask questions? What are those steel rails? What runs on them? Do you believe the real estate agent when they say you won’t notice the trains, as none run on it? So, who do you go after when you finally realize you bought a home next to an active railway line?

    Unfortunately, the Railway ends up taking the brunt of the critisism, and they are not to blame here. The homeowners have a responsibility to understand what they are purchasing. Moving in and asking things to change isn’t going to work, unless it is reasonable.

    For example — do you oppose the increase in traffic and car density on the highways, then ask them to change by saying — we didn’t know it would be this bad!

    TrainJane: The Acquisition of the EJ&E may have an adverse long term affect on adjacent property owners, but think of all the railway lines within Chicago that will have less trains, and in the future, no tracks. A multiple of railway tracks in Chicago, much greater than the EJ&E purchase will have less traffic, and a shorter amount of track, the EJ&E itself will have more trains.

    You do the math — shorter distance to run the freight, faster trains, less bother in the whole. This re-routing of traffic happens every day and has been happening for hundred(s) of years to the benefit of society.

    There are winners and there are losers. If you don’t buy a home near railway tracks or highways, these problems do not exist, do they?

  23. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Goldspike
    Actually I think the RAC does a very good job. I actually hold them in high regard but this does not mean i have to agree with every little thing. The RAC has to be politically correct.I, on the otherhand am not even close to being politically correct.
    Hi Trainjane
    Go for it. I dont think i will hold my breath wating for your succcess.
    Jeff Willsie

    • trainjane permalink

      Go for it? Someone else already has apparently, and this is the subject of our latest post.

  24. Stephen C. Host permalink

    Some replies to the above:

    a) Credibility: Trainjane, you have not yet identified yourself, and I think the letter to the editor rule, requiring a real name, still applies if you want real credibility.

    b) The proximity issues railways face are different, yet similar to that of new highway construction, traffic re-routing for construction, accidents, or rerouting or addition of airline traffic. For example, CPR is building a new yard in Wolverton, adjacent homes that didn’t have a railway yard before — to improve efficiencies, reduce blocked crossings (legal or not) and reduce noise in two urban areas (Woodstock and Cambridge). When you do something to solve problems, you still get blamed. What should they do?

    c) You guys blamed CPR for the problem, pursued them, and now that OSR is here, you are now attacking them, and the CPR for skirting the problem. Hint: YOUR problems could be solved by the fact OSR is in town.

    Without getting into how unionized railways work (it’s incredibly complex)

    1) OSR is a small company, with a small pool of employees who learn/work/know the territory and live locally. They will care about the community and pay attention. And you can bet every day the people assigned to the job know it well.

    2) CPR is much bigger, pool of employees working Woodstock, who come from the London division is probably in the hundred(s), and with seniority, pool shifting (to keep your job you have to play the seniority rules and transfer between pools) the number that worked woodstock would be large, but probably worked the area infrequently, as there are dozens of daily assignments in the pool. This translates into slower service, employees not knowing the territory as well, more blocked crossings, and more nighttime operations to keep up.

    Mr Bickley: In your statements above you asked the CTA to clarify why OSR used CP locomotives and cars after start-up. This is basic railroading, and not really relevant to the case. The lease (as you revealed) forbids the use of FREE locomotives and FREE railway cars, but i’m sure if you paid CPR you could ‘lease’ a locomotive and customer could ‘pay’ to use a CPR car on the line. After all, they are ultimately still using CP for the long haul and this would be all in a days work to make sure customers are served. This has no bearing to proximity issues.. and no, the CPR did not ‘come back temporarily’, it would have been OSR on those engines.


    Making OSR a scapegoat in this process will be a mistake, they are solving problems in their community that big railways (Class 1’s) will still have until they implement changes.

    The fact you have the OSR presidents attention on this site should help prove the benefits of a shortline in your community, at least they are at our level.

    And I have posted an explanation to why the OSR lease is NOT a conveniene to the CPR — this has been in the works for year(s) and is simply an economic exercise. See the post on this site elsewhere that explains the economic reasons behind the lease.

    Call Doug Craig, Cambridge Mayor and discuss the problems they are having in Cambridge. Wolverton may solve some of them, but it will still be CPR at the end of the day out there..

    • trainjane permalink

      With respect to proximity issues, we think that the railways should abide by their own “Best Practices” report that was jointly produced with the FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities.)

      There is alot of good material in that report that can help potentially avoid future conflicts between residential and rail interests.

      However, railways seem to be reluctant to follow their own proximity guidelines when they’re the developers. That’s a recipe for disaster; we’ve already discussed two such instances here.

      It would also be very useful if the RAC and FCM put together a “Best Practices” report to address existing proximity problems and tackle some of the challenges this problem presents. This discussion could cover subjects such as location of idling locomotives in proximity to homes, and suggested criteria for noise mitigation.

      Please note that words such as “blame” and “scapegoat” have not been used in our choice of words when discussing this issue.

  25. Grinder-RCU permalink

    View from the cab.

    Instead of a pissing match back and forth which does nobody any good why not have sit down with all parties involved and come to conclusion?. Locaton, Location, Location is correct. This is akin to someone buying a house at the end of the rwy at Pearson airport and then complaing about 747’s flying overhead every 90 sec’s. On the other hand from a railfan perspective if you wanted to follow railway operations then buy a property close to a rail line and that would be your dream home. As a taxpayer I’m a littled annoyed by the abuse of the system by Mr. Bickley. Mr. Bickley has every right to make a complaint to Transport Canada. But TC is a Gov agency funded by ME! the tax payer. So when i have to bring the train into Woodstock following all of the CROR rules, CPR rules, TC rules GOI, and then have to be observed Numerous times from TC due to a frivolous complaint and thats what they are, is very disturbing. This takes away from allowing TC to use their resources for more pressing needs. My paycheck is paying a guy to drive from Toronto to check on me. Ludicrious!. ” Hey, here’s $50 bucks make sure i’m doing my job right!”. Whats next? reverse the flow of the Thames river in Woodstock?. Nothing wrong with fighting the good fight but thats whats it is a fight. And nobody wins in a fight.

    The sloutions are:

    1. Shut down the rail line and truck everything. 2.5 trucks equals one rail car.
    a 40 car train would make for 100 trucks driving down your street.

    2. No whistle crossing.

    3. Close Hunter street.

    4. Noise abatement retaining wall around the neighbourhood.

    5. Move.


    • trainjane permalink

      We’re impressed that you see merit in the idea of sitting down together and trying to work this matter out between all parties.
      This has been one of the best suggestions so far. We really appreciate your comments and your perspective in this issue; it’s important to hear from all sides.

  26. Denise Laitinen permalink

    Stephen I had almost no sleep last night and am suffering from extreme sleep deprivation so given my present mood I have to say are you stupid? The frequency, weight and speed of trains has more than doubled in the last two years in this area.

    Your comment is ignorant, insulting and ill informed. How many people have bought homes next to an airport only to have the airport expanded, multiple runways added etc?

    Are you so stupid that you think time and progress just stands still? This development was built in the 1970’s, CN double tracked in the 1980’s and the CN has greatly expanded its operation since then, the weight of its engines and cars, the speed of their trains, etc

    Duh ! And YES the expansion and development of highways, bypasses, freeways are generally undertaken after studies on the impact of residents in the area and their homes, land is often purchased by the Govt when these expansions take place.

    Your comments are insulting in the extreme to suggest that I and other purchased our home next to the double tracks and had a crystal ball to see that the CN would double track, and increase their operations to the extrent that they have done.

    You are not in any way being helpful, its clear your intent in being here is only to insult and harass other people. People like you are pathetic in the extreme and generally feel impotent in their personal lives so vent their feelings of helplessness and ineffectiveness and impotency on others on the internet. I suggest self esteem counseling and career counseling which might aleviate these feelings of impotencey and anger towards others

  27. Denise Laitinen permalink

    Someone posted that rail operations have changed since 1910? What a load of crap


    CN 6167 on display at Guelph, Ontario.The CNR acquired its first 4-8-4 Confederation locomotives in 1927. Over the next 20 years, it ordered over 200 for passenger and heavy freight service. The CNR also used several 4-8-2 Mountain locomotives, almost exclusively for passenger service. No. 6060, a streamlined 4-8-2, was the last CN steam locomotive, running in excursion service in the 1970s. CNR also used several 2-8-2 Mikado locomotives.

    In 1929, the CNR made its first experiment with diesel electric locomotives, acquiring two from Westinghouse, numbered 9000 and 9001. It was the first North American railway to use diesels in mainline service. These early units proved the feasibility of the diesel concept, but were not always reliable. No. 9000 served until 1939, and No. 9001 until 1947. The difficulties of the Great Depression precluded much further progress towards diesel locomotives. The CNR began its conversion to diesel locomotives after World War II, and had fully dieselized by 1960. Most of the CNR’s first-generation diesel locomotives were made by General Motors Diesel (GMD) and Montreal Locomotive Works.

    For its narrow-gauge lines in Newfoundland CN acquired from GMD the 900 series, Models NF110 (road numbers 900-908) and NF210 (road numbers 909-946). For use on the branch lines CN purchased the EMD G8 (road numbers 800-805).

    For passenger service the CNR acquired GMD FP9 diesels, as well as CLC CPA16-5, ALCO MLW FPA-2 and FPA-4 diesels. These locomotives made up most of the CNR’s passenger fleet, although CN also owned some 60 RailLiners (Budd Rail Diesel Cars), some dual-purpose diesel freight locomotives (freight locomotives equipped with passenger train apparatus, such as steam generators) as well as the locomotives for the Turbo trainsets. VIA acquired most of CN’s passenger fleet when it took over CN passenger service in 1978.

    The CN fleet as of 2007[update] consists of 1548 locomotives, most of which are products of either General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division (EMD), or General Electric/GE Transportation Systems.

    Much of the current roster is made up of EMD SD70I and EMD SD75I locomotives and GE C44-9W locomotives. Recently acquired are the new EMD SD70M-2 and GE ES44DC. A large number of older locomotives still soldier on, many more than 30 years old. CN has stayed firmly committed to conventional direct current traction motors, instead of the new alternating current motors being used by many railways in heavy-haul service.

    Changes to Rolling Stock
    Freight cars

    Boxcars behind Tampa Union Station, January 2006Rotary gondola
    Open hopper
    Bi-level auto carrier
    Tri-level auto carrier
    Auto parts boxcar
    Low-cube covered hopper car
    Newsprint boxcar
    Wood pulp boxcar
    Woodchip gondola
    Log car
    Centerbeam car
    Bulkhead flat car
    Double-door boxcar
    Government hopper car
    High-cube and jumbo
    covered hopper
    Metals box car
    Covered coil gondola
    Standard gondola
    Ore gondola
    Open hopper

    [edit] Overseas intermodal containers
    20-foot containers
    40-foot containers
    45-foot containers
    [edit] North American intermodal containers
    48-foot containers
    48-foot heater/reefer containers
    50-foot reefer/heater containers(modified 48)
    53-foot containers
    53-foot heater/reefer containers
    [edit] Container chassis
    Max Atlas 40-foot to 53-foot extendable container chassis
    Di-Mond 40-foot to 53-foot extendable container chassis

    On May 13, 2003, the provincial government of British Columbia announced that the provincial Crown corporation, BC Rail (BCR), would be sold with the winning bidder receiving BCR’s surface operating assets (locomotives, cars, and service facilities). The provincial government is retaining ownership of the tracks and right-of-way. On November 25, 2003, it was announced that CN’s bid of $1 billion CAD would be accepted over those of CPR and several U.S. companies. The transaction was closed effective July 15, 2004. Many opponents – including CPR – accused the government and CN of rigging the bidding process, though this has been denied by the government. Documents relating to the case are under court seal, as they are connected to a parallel marijuana grow-op investigation connected with two senior government aides also involved in the sale of BC Rail.

    Also contested was the economic stimulus package that the government gave the cities along the BC Rail route – some saw it as a buy-off done in order to get the municipalities to cooperate with the lease, though the government has asserted that the package was intended to promote economic development along the corridor. Passenger service along the route had been ended by BC Rail a few years earlier due to ongoing losses resulting from deteriorating service. The cancelled passenger service has recently been replaced by a blue-plate tourist service, the Rocky Mountaineer, with fares well over double what the BCR coach fares had been.

    In December 1999 the Ultratrain, a petroleum products unit train linking the Saint-Romuald (Quebec) Ultramar oil refinery with a petroleum depot in Montreal, exploded when it derailed and collided with a freight train travelling in the opposite direction between Sainte-Madeleine and Saint-Hilaire-Est, south of Montreal, killing the crew of the freight train. The train derailed at a broken rail caused by a defective weld; the report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada called into question CN’s quality assurance program for rail welds as well as the lack of detection equipment for defective wheels. In memory of the dead crewmen, two new stations on the line have been named after them (Davis and Thériault).

    On May 14, 2003, a trestle collapsed under the WEIGHT of a freight train near McBride, B.C., killing both crew members. Both men had been disciplined earlier for refusing to take another train on the same bridge, claiming it was unsafe.[4] Revealed that as far back as 1999, several bridge components had been reported as rotten, yet no repairs had been ordered by management. Eventually, the disciplinary records of both crewmen were amended posthumously.

    On August 5, 2005, a CN train had nine cars derail on a bridge over the Cheakamus River, causing 41,000 litres (9,000 Canadian gal, 11,000 US gal) of caustic soda to spill into the river, killing thousands of fish by caustic burns and asphixiation. The CBC reported evironmental experts say that it would take the river 50 years or more to recover from the toxic pollution.[6] The Cheakamus River used to have a vibrant fishing tourism industry which now faces an uncertain future. CN is facing accusations from local British Columbians over the rail line’s supposed lack of response to this issue, touted as the worst chemical spill in British Columbia’s history.

    Transport Canada has restricted CN to trains not exceeding 80 car lengths because of the multiple derailments on the former BCR line north from Squamish. CN had been allegedly running trains in excess of 150 cars on this winding and mountainous section of track.

    A further derailment at Moran, twenty miles north of Lillooet, on June 30, 2006, has raised more questions about CN’s safety policies. Two more derailments, days apart, near Lytton in August 2006 have continued criticism. In the first case, 20 coal cars of a CPR train using a CN bridge derailed, dumping 12 cars of coal into the Thompson River. In the second case half a dozen grain cars spilled on a CN train.

    Two CN trains collided on August 4, 2007, on the banks of the Fraser River near Prince George, BC. Several cars carrying gasoline, diesel and lumber burst into flames. Water bombers were used to help put out the fires. Some fuel had seeped into the Fraser River.[7]

    On December 4, 2007, a CN train derailed near Edmonton in Strathcona County, Alberta, at 3:30 a.m Mountain Standard Time. Of the 28 cars derailed, most of them were empty or carrying non-hazardous materials such as lumber or pipes.[8]

    When CNR was first created, it inherited a large number of routes from its constituent railways, but eventually pieced its passenger network into one coherent network. For example, on December 3, 1920, CNR inaugurated the Continental Limited, which operated over four of its predecessors, as well as the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway. The 1920s saw growth in passenger travel, and CNR inaugurated several new routes and introduced new services, such as radio, on its trains.

    The growth in passenger travel ended with the Great Depression, which lasted between 1929 and 1939, but picked up somewhat during World War II. By the end of World War II, many of CNR’s passenger cars were old and worn down. Accidents at Dugald, Manitoba in 1947 and Canoe River, British Columbia in 1950, wherein extra passenger trains composed of older equipment collided with transcontinental passenger trains composed of somewhat newer equipment, demonstrated the dangers inherent in the older cars. In 1953, CNR ordered 359 lightweight passenger cars, allowing them to re-equip their major routes.

    On April 24, 1955, the same day that the CPR introduced its transcontinental train The Canadian, CNR introduced its own new transcontinental passenger train, the Super Continental, which used new streamlined rolling stock. However, the Super Continental was never considered to be as glamorous as the Canadian. For example, it did not include dome cars. Dome cars would be added in the early 1960s with the purchase of six former Milwaukee Road “Super Domes.” They were used on the Super Continental during the Summer tourist season.

    Rail passenger traffic in Canada declined significantly between World War II and 1960 due to automobiles and airplanes. In the 1960s, CN’s privately-owned rival CPR reduced its passenger services significantly. However, the government-owned CN continued much of its passenger services and marketed new schemes, such as the “red, white and blue” fare structure, to bring passengers back to rail.

    In 1968, CN introduced a new high-speed train, the United Aircraft Turbo, which was powered by gas turbines instead of diesel engines. It made the trip between Toronto and Montreal in four hours


  28. Denise Laitinen permalink

    Nothing has changed since 1910? Or the 1970’s when these homes were built? Or even in the last TWO years – such ignorant statements are insulting and show an EXTREME lack of knowledge and awareness

    ALL this rolling stock goes RIGHT PAST our homes

    Reaching New Milestones
    The Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative (APGCI) is approaching a significant milestone as the mid-way point of the Initiative draws near and over $1 billion in federal funds have been committed to strategic projects:

    •The opening of the Simon Fraser Bridge (August 2009);
    •Opening of Pitt River Bridge to traffic (October 2009);
    •New shipping berth at Deltaport, Canada’s largest container terminal (January 2010) This third berth increases the capacity of the Port Metro Vancouver facility by 50 percent;
    •Major investments in the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor to help ensure the efficient flow of containers to and from the Port Metro Vancouver.
    Also, the new shipping berth at Deltaport, Canada’s largest container terminal is an important achievement. Opened in January 2010, this third berth increases the capacity of the Port Metro Vancouver facility by 50 percent.

    The new decade sets the stage for Canada to continue this momentum and prosper as the global economy recovers. By delivering on commitments and developing the Gateway system, the APGCI’s forward-looking investments, together with those of public and private sector partners, are producing concrete results:

    •Contributing to Canada’s competitiveness
    •Improving efficiency of the transportation system
    •Promoting greater use of the Asia-Pacific Gateway internationally
    Canada, now more than ever, is prepared to take advantage of the benefits associated with increased Asia-Pacific trade. This impetus must not be lost, which is why the next phase of the APGCI is so critical. Strong action and continued collaboration is required at all levels to seize economic opportunities and secure Canada’s competitive advantages.

    Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: “CN had very strong results, posting increased third-quarter net income driven by solid revenue growth, effective cost control and improved productivity. Greater freight volumes in almost all markets reflected the continued recovery in North American and global economies.

    “CN’s impressive performance is more than an economic recovery story. We are starting to see dividends from our new supply chain initiatives, which are designed to help our customers grow their business and position CN to handle a greater amount of that traffic. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve innovated on a number of fronts, ranging from scheduled grain service in Western Canada, to collaboration agreements with Canada’s major ports and level of service pacts with terminal operators, to a new end-to-end supply chain focus on Western Canada export coal traffic.

    “There are some encouraging signs. During the first nine months of 2010, Canadian grain volumes approached a level not seen since the 1996/1997 Canadian bumper crop-year. Overseas intermodal traffic reached a record high for the nine-month 2010 period – up 25 per cent from 2009. And Canadian coal traffic increased by a full 75 per cent from the comparable nine-month period of 2009.

    Third-quarter 2010 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses

    The 15 per cent rise in third-quarter revenues mainly resulted from significantly higher freight volumes in almost all markets as a result of improving economic conditions in North America and globally; the impact of a higher fuel surcharge as a result of year-over-year increases in applicable fuel prices and higher volumes; and freight rate increases. These factors were partly offset by the negative translation impact of the stronger Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues.

    Revenues increased for coal (28 per cent), metals and minerals (24 per cent), automotive (22 per cent), intermodal (19 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (10 per cent), grain and fertilizers (seven per cent), and forest products (four per cent).

    Revenue ton-miles, measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased nine per cent from the year-earlier period.

    Rail freight revenue per revenue ton-mile, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, increased by five per cent, largely owing to the impact of a higher fuel surcharge, freight rate increases and a decrease in the average length of haul that were partly offset by the negative translation impact of the stronger Canadian dollar

    • trainjane permalink

      In fairness, the context of the “nothing has changed” statement pertains more to comments expressed concerning CPR – OSR operations in around the Woodstock, Ontario area. We did not interpret them as being a blanket statement, Canada-wide. You’ve had significant changes in around Kamloops, B.C. since CN doubletracked through there nearly 25 years ago.

  29. Walter E Pfefferle permalink

    Do you only post items that make you look good? I have posted two replies and neither has shown up, why.

    Also to trainjane I will never take anything you post seriously until you identify yourself. If you believe in what you say, stand up and be counted or is train jane Mr Bickley?

    Can you also tell me why if Mr Bickley is so against railways why does he have a Woodstock West sign hanging on his house?
    ***************************************** URL Deleted by Site Admin

    • trainjane permalink

      No, Mr. Pfefferle, we don’t only post items that “make us look good.” We post all relevant comments from all sides of the issue. That’s what “makes us look good,” so to speak.

      And as for taking me seriously Mr. Pfefferle, obviously you do from the amount of effort that you have spent responding to our blog.

      We, however, could take you much more seriously if you were more upfront about your actual vested interest in this issue.

      You are not simply just another resident living in the footprint of OSR’s operations who disagrees with Mr. Bickley and his complaint about the railway.

      You are, in fact, the Webmaster for Ontario Southland Railway…

      • Walter Pfefferle permalink

        Yes I do the web site for OSR but that has nothing to do with this discussion. I would be commenting if this discussion was about CN or CP or any other railway.
        Comments above about car alarms going off, dishes falling off shelves etc. What railway do you live by? I am about 50 feet from OSR tracks and don’t even feel them go by. Also about not getting any sleep. OSR does not run at night so I guess we are now talking about another railway.
        Is it only me that has noticed most of Mr. Bickleys supporters are women? trainjane, Denise and even goldspike has a flower by her alias. Come on us eyour real name if you want to taken seriously

        • goldspike permalink

          It has everything to do with this discussion Mr. Pfefferle. You’re not just a resident who disagrees with Mr. Bickley. You are a colleague of Jeff Willsie at Ontario Southland Railway and should have said so. You are entitled to your opinion, but should have been upfront about your biases.
          We are glad that vibration from your friend’s railway does not bother you. We hope that you never find yourself in the sort of situation that many of us have.
          Go talk to the residents in around the Chicago area for example who have had CN Rail move in with their massive locomotives when they picked up the EJ&E Railway.
          Many who were unaffected by EJ&E’s operations are finding the changes that CN has made with regards to the type of motive power in use by their homes intolerable.

    • goldspike permalink

      We can’t find anywhere in which Mr. Bickley states that he is against railways.

      Maybe that’s why he has a decorative railway sign by his home.

  30. Steve Lucas permalink

    Let’s see. The piece of track that Mr. Bickley lives near sees, what, maybe four trains a day? Let’s play devil’s advocate and say four. OK.

    I live near another rail line operated by Mr. Willsie’s company. When I moved to a house about 1/4 mile from it in 1998, this line saw maybe a train every other day on weekdays. Now operating on this piece of track are four to six rail movements six or seven days a week. Four public crossings are whistled for ranging from about 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile from my house. I must say that I have never been bothered by the whistling whether at dawn or in the evening . But my neigbour’s dog is bothered by the whistle pitch on certain of the Ontario Southland’s loco’s!

    I also work as a conductor and loco engineer for a major Canadian railway. Mr. Bickley is best to approach Woodstock’s new city council and press for an anti-whistling bylaw pertaining to the crossing near his house. Absent such a bylaw, train crews are required by the Canadian Rail Operating Rules to sound the whistle as perscribed by rule 14(L). These rules are a regulation pursuant to the Railway Safety Act of Canada.

    Failure to adhere to these rules opens train crews up to penalties under the Act, and civil and crminal sanctions in the case of a collision at a crossing. I am in no position to take care of my family’s needs while in jail and/or bankrupted by a court judgment.

    And both public crossing collisions that I have been involved in in twenty-three years on the railway (I have been VERY fortunate indeed in only having two, in which the vehicle occupants walked away) were at crossings protected by flashing lights and bells. One crossing also had gates that the driver swerved around rather than hitting. Both had whistling proscribed at them.

    We don’t whistle because we want to.

    By the way, the whistle pattern for public crossings per Rule 14(L), — — o — has absolutely nothing to do with the telegraphic letter “Q”. Until the mid-1940’s, Rule 14(L) specified this whistle pattern; — — o o . Before railway radio communication, there were many whistle signals prescribed by the operating rules, including which direction a flagman could return from, if one train was being followed by another having the same superiority over trains both were meeting on single track, or even if a trainman was required to apply handbrakes. Mr. Bickley’s discomfiture would be greatly intensified were we to use these whistle signals today.

    • trainjane permalink

      Thank you for taking the time and providing your perspective in this issue.

      We welcome constructive feedback from railway employees, and we think you’ve raised some important points about the whistling issue, especially as it affects those who are required to use it, and the consequences if you don’t. Your perspective provides an important insight for everyone here. Thanks again.

  31. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi All
    This is Jeff Willsie
    First of all Walter Pfefferle does OSRs website as a volunteer. Walter is an avid railfan. I bet there are far more railfans than complaining neighbours. Walter lives right beside the track at the crossing in Beachville Ont.
    I think this allowes him an opinion.
    The simple fact of this bill is that it would increase rail car dwell time some 20 to 25%. To take 10 hrs a day out of yard switching time would reduce rail capacity some 30 to 35%.
    Every user of rail freight sevices would be highly opposed to this. Every auto manufacturer, every oil company, every chemical company, the Canadian wheat board, all farmers, potash corp, coal companies, food companies, lumber companies, and auto parts companys. Every user of the railway.
    I realy do not think this bill will get anywhere.

    Denise, you realy should move if you cant get any sleep.
    You chose to live by the railway. The railway expands or retracts based on buisness. Property value loss or not you should not jeopardize your health waiting for this bill to pass.
    Glad to see more railroader point of view.
    Jeff Willsie
    Ontario Southland Railway

    • goldspike permalink

      Railways did not think the last Bill would go anywhere either. In the community in which this Bill originated, there are just too many people affected to move.

  32. Stephen C. Host permalink

    Hi Denise.

    I am not going to respond to your emotionally charged statements, which have crossed a line into personal insults, but respectfully:

    a) People that purchase land beside a highway, airport, or railway, not realizing that these things can get busier, louder, etc are clearly ill informed

    b) Real estate agents are well known to use fairy dust arguments when selling homes beside railway tracks, ie ‘there are no trains’ ‘you won’t hear them’ ‘the trains will be gone soon enough’ !

    There are plenty of methods to settle noise, vibration, and safety complaints, while they may be tatamount to climibing a mountain, the residents of other areas such as Weston in Toronto have managed to succesfully have a say.

    Further, there are plenty of reasons why we are all here, and the legislation is a welcome step forward, but lets keep the arguments reasonable. You need the Railway point of view too, right? And quite frankly,. Railroading is a whole other world that the general public barely understands, yet it has been part of our fabric since pre-confederation.

    I joined this discussion because many of the arguments against Railway noise ends up compromising safety, and I can lend a hand to help others understand the reprocussions of what they ask for.

    Best of luck to all involved,

    • goldspike permalink

      Mr. Host, you make several points.

      One is that we are going to have to address what you refer to as “emotionally charged statements.”

      We welcome all points of view on this site, but kindly ask everyone that if you disagree with a particular point of view, to please refrain from the use of insults directed to the person with whom you disagree. Some of the items discussed in this blog could be described as “emotionally charged issues,” let’s not make it personal please out of respect to all.

      Mr. Host, your opinion: What effect do you think that the RAC/FCM “Best Practices” Proximity Report can/will have on the sort of problems you describe under your points a) and b)?

      We also agree with your comments about some realtors, and have heard some real horror stories from people who have specifically asked about rail activity before buying, only to discover the situation not what they anticipated.

      What measures do you suggest for better informing the public? What are your thoughts on setting standards to limit noise?

  33. Grinder-RCU permalink

    Just to let everybody know my name is Joe Dennis and I’m employed by the Ontario Southland rwy as an engineer. How about you TrainJane?.


  34. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi All
    This is Jeff Willsie
    About 4 years ago CP made comments to Tillsonburg about a proposed new subdivision beside the osr leased track.
    As i remember CP wanted a berm & a 4 or 500 ft setback
    The houses were built less than 150 ft from the track with a 5 ft berm. i went to an open house & told the real estate sales person i thought the price was rediculously high considering the house was right beside the railway & also a public cossing at grade that would require the whistle.The guy immediately piped up & told me the train only runs 1 or 2 times a month, he did not think the whistle was blown & that he had it from very good sources that the railway would be abandoned whithin a year.
    Buyer beware!
    I think if you move beside an existing rail operation, the issies you have will only get worse as the railways get more traffic. this bill c587 will be opposed by every shipper in Canada as it will cost them millions.
    The government may be able to do somthing about the diesel fumes though.
    Build a nuclear reactor between the railway & its neighbours & electrify the railway. This shall happen within a 100 yrs anyway as we have to get off this oil dependency.I find it hard to imagine the economic power of all the railway shippers in Canada, but im guessing it would be more than the folks who chose to move in beside an active railway operation & now do not like
    the issues that go along with that, generally, cheaper real estate.
    Location, location location, buyer beware, Realy what more needs to be said!
    Jeff Willsie
    Ontario Southland Railway

  35. Jon Pindar permalink

    Many times I have heard people complain about what has gone on. Since moving to Woodstock due to necessities of my job in 2007 (the outrageous cost of running a car from Kitchener to Woodstock forced me to). I have lived with the change from being on a very noisy traffic congested area on the border of Kitchener and Waterloo.

    Railroad tracks within half a mile of my residence there. Did not bother me at all, never has. Although my situation was different. Born in St. Thomas has left me I guess immune to the noise vibration et al that is the inherent issue here.

    What did bother me, the traffic, The noise from it. The tennagers and some adults with stereo’s in their cars that can outdo the infamous “Train Horn” anyday of the week. Why not outlaw these outlandish audio systems under the infamous “Distracted Driving” laws that are now being enforced. Heaven help one talk on the cell phone, then again its ok to allow people like this to distract others, upset children et al.

    The issues are in regards to those that continue to surface in regards to the Ontario Southland Railway, for the most part, are unfounded. It has been an ongoing issue long before this company assumed operation of the St Thomas Subdivison. In fact this company has ended up increasing traffic on said line. Which in turn, allows more jobs. Absolutely wonderful news in regards to the situation in the economy in the area. This area is still in a holding pattern in regards to the close ties to the auto industry.

    So, complain about noise, banging, I have seen in other posts health issues. How, noise? Banging? Developments of the cushioned drawbar have greatly changed railroading period. I have stood within close proximity of an OSR train, by the major complaintants house and never, ever had an issue with noise, let alone, vibration.

    The idea overall, of limiting what can be done and where. In regards to switching, et al. If thats the case, and it goes through. Destroy the economy, watch your children and grandchildrens futures implode due to those actions. Not a single company will stay in this country that cant ship en masse when they say.

    This is the way OSR operates, if a customer wants service, he supplies it, when they want it. This is why these smaller companies flourish. CN/CP are in it from coast to coast, long haul. These smaller outfits have saved jobs in many areas due to their ability to serve customers far quicker than the big railroads.

    So more reason to complain. Not really, its more reason to celebrate the jobs of the people in the area.

    If Woodstock needs a street closed, close it. If it needs barriers and gates, well, new city council needs to spend money. Its simple, its not all the railways. Want the noise of horns to stop, its up to Woodstock, go to the new council. Get it done. We voted for change here.

    I dont want change, its the sound of progress.

    Jon Pindar

  36. Stephen C. Host permalink

    Goldspike, Some comments by Ms. Latinen to me were quite charged, and actually insulting, if you are asking me to refrain from anything, your asking the wrong person, thank you.

    a) Caveat emptor, is a rule that should be practiced by all. Period. Even with regards to real estate ‘law’ — where do you stop? Highways are quite noisy too..

    Legislation could be enacted that requires, as part of the legality of closing a home purchase, notification of proximity to certain ‘noise’ issues, such as railways, highways, stadiums, quarries, etc. Such as anything within 500m of a certain home, informing the purchaser as part of the legal home closing process.

    As for setting standards on limiting noise — our Government can start by putting meat behind the legislation — offering funding to qualifying noise mitigating projects. We spend billions on roads every year, and very little goes towards Railway related issues. Example: How many highways have noise barriers? How many railways the same? This funding could be used by a municipality to help pay for upgrades to effect a no whistle bylaw. A grade crossing could be seperated, eliminating access by vehicles/pedestrians, and noise with one less whistle. Tracks can be upgraded to reduce vibration, and noise barriers could be installed surrounding railway yards where feasible.

    Heck, Railroads would love to have the money to re-route some busy railroad lines around cities so these problems can be fixed, but the costs are so prohibitive, and our Government offers no money for this, it isn’t going to happen soon! How many highways are re-routed around cities? many of our Ontario highways have had exactly that done, and only a few railroads. (Milton, Ontario, Toronto, Ontario are two examples of railroads diverted around town (at the time))

    At least with a diversion, you have the ability to set your appropriate setback, development proximity limits, and design with limited pedestrian and vehicular access.

    Those are just some thoughts… and they will require $$ from our Government, thus taxpayer money.

    • trainjane permalink

      Mr. Host, we are all in agreement here with your point of view about comments of a more derogatory or personal nature.

      We’re asking everyone – from all sides of the issues that are discussed here – to please refrain from this.

      Our apologies for any offence taken.

      You’ve raised some interesting points in your post. Covenants, in the case of new real estate projects that do not conform to the RAC/FCM Proximity Guidelines, could go a long way in helping to avoid future conflicts between rail and residential interests. This would help inform potential buyers of what could likely be anticipated in terms of noise and vibration.

      The problem that remains is the vast amount of real estate already in existence, that has already been built, well outside of these guidelines.

      The flip side to this is railway operations that expand or change in proximity to homes. The type of changes that we’ve been hearing about in this regard include issues such as changes in the types of locomotives used in certain aspects of rail operations. For example, CN, in particular, has moved towards using higher-horsepowered locomotives in various areas which, in turn, has significantly boosted noise and vibration levels for certain locales.

      The question of funding of noise mitigation is an interesting one.

      It’s important to note that the railways – the major ones at least – aren’t exactly hurting at the moment, and we think could very well designate a small percentage of annual profits to noise mitigation measures. It would be a good way to build – or, in some cases – rebuild – community relationships.

  37. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    I heard that the CTA ruled a person complaining about CN operations noth of Toronto was frivolous. any truth to this?
    Jeff Willsie

    • trainjane permalink

      We believe, from what we’ve read here, that the complaint surrounding CN’s MacMillan Yard was dismissed. We don’t have detailed particulars about this specific situation, beyond what the CTA has publicly posted.

  38. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    A note about those new more powerfull locos.
    As i understand it a 4400 hp ge can pull almost double what 2 3000 hp gm sd40s could & use the same or less less fuel than 1 sd40.
    This is a major reduction for greenhouse gas emisions.
    The question is a little more noise & vibration for an approximatly 80% reduction in emissions or pollute more to satisfy the neighbours. Seems like an easy choice to me!
    Jeff Willsie
    President OSR

    • trainjane permalink

      Re: The use of higher-horsepowered locomotives:

      What can be done in theory versus actual practice can be two very different things. Major reduction in greenhouse gases? Not when we’ve recently observed these units deadheading back and forth from one part of a major urban centre to another, without benefit of freight in either direction, from one yard location to another. That might save time, but it does not save fuel, or cut emissions.

      In another specific circumstance that we’ve observed, smaller engines that were previously used for a specific assignment have been substituted for the same number of higher horsepowered ones. Where’s the benefit in that?

      And it’s not just “a little more noise and vibration” that these larger engines emit. Try telling that to the folks in around the Chicago area that previously had the EJ&E Railway as neighbours until CN moved in with its larger locomotives. It’s had a significant, negative impact on some of these folks.

      Lastly, there’s the issue of the trend towards longer trains, which seems to be one of the primary reasons for the increasing use of more powerful engines.

      How does this affect the priority users of the crossings? And no, railways are not the priority users of the crossings, at least, not in our opinion.

      The priority, in this case, is emergency personnel. Paramedics, police, and fire fighters…how are longer trains and therefore potentially longer delays at crossings affecting our first responders to emergency situations?

  39. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi All
    I have to correct the emission savings
    It would be about 50% for the ge 4400 hP locos over the GM sd 40.In any case, this emission reduction would be more important than a little extra noise & vibration.
    Train Jane
    I would have to disagree that railway profits should be used for noise or vibration control.Why should the railways pay for the foolishness of folks who move in beside the railways. The government may spend money on this as they foolishly spend our money on a regular basis.
    Jeff Willsie

  40. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Trane jane
    It amazes me how you expect you word to be taken as gospell when you know so little about the railway.
    2-3000 HP GM sd40 locomotives were good for 5150 tones up the Niagara escarpment between Milton & Cambellville
    1 new GE 4400 HP can pull 5500 tons up that hill using the same fuel as 1 3000 HP GM sd40.
    I think that ammounts to about 50% less emissions
    Deadheading locos to where the power is neaded does not eat up those emmission reductions.Maby more freight is going in one direction than the other. Maby the controling grade is steeper in one direction than the other.Power will go to where required.
    Smaller power will be replaced by larger power on jobs based on avaliability & tonnage to be moved.The bennefit, more tonnage can be moved more easily. Personally,i think what power is used in the yard is up to the railway, not the neighbours.
    You should be thanking the railways for going from stean to diesel. The vibration from 1 Union Pacific big boy steam locomotive weighing in at 762,000 lbs (loco only) would cause much more vibration than any newer diesel.
    Tecnology certainally helped lessen vibration with the comming of the diesels.
    As for longer trains you should lobby the shippers, the oil, auto, coal, lunber, chemical,mining companys,potash corp, the Canadian wheat board all the users of the railway & see if they are willing to pay 10 or 15% more on the freight rates to have shorter trains. Longer trains mean less train crews meaning more productivity,less expense.
    A better approach would be to lobby the feds to increase money for road closures & grade separations.
    The railway is what it is & if you chose to live in the raiways back yard you are going to hear & feel its presents.Remember the traffic volumes can change drastically.
    I was born & raised in St thomas Ont. 6 raiways operated there. In the summer with the windowes open i fell asleep every night listening to all the switching & loco noise. The point is i fell asleep.
    Have a great day
    Jeff Willsie

    • trainjane permalink

      Mr. Willsie, there are no fuel savings when larger locomotives are swapped to replace the same work that was or can be done by smaller units. That’s a reality that we’ve been observing for some time, as part of the trend towards the use of higher-horsepowered locomotives, and within certain urban areas. We are not saying that this is the case in all instances, but, the bottom line is that we believe that there is still a great deal of fuel that can be saved if practices such as this were more closely monitored.

      How do you rationalize that deadheading doesn’t reduce waste fuel? In the instances that we’ve noted, it hasn’t been a case of more freight going in one direction than another. It’s no freight in either direction that we have been noting, sometimes to just apparently pick up crew members, and head off back to another part of the city. That’s hardly an efficient way to transport people. Perhaps you’d like to comment on the gas mileage that various types on engines, while deadheading, can realize…

      For the record, our observations regarding deadheading back and forth were based on an area of relative flatness, without any sort of steep grades, all within a metropolitan area.

      Why lobby the rail industry’s customer’s regarding longer trains? Where’s the railway’s hand in this decision? And who, if anyone, has bothered to take into account the effect of longer trains on the response times of emergency personnel?

      We’re glad that you have fond memories of falling into a peaceful slumber listening to the trains at some point in the past. So do we. But that was a long time ago, and, in many communities, railway noise and vibration during the night has increased to the point whereby an uninterrupted night’s sleep is no longer possible. We’d be quite happy to return along to yesteryear with you, along with many other people who were once quite happy living for years in around rail operations.But the fact of the matter is that circumstances have changed dramatically, particularly during the 7 year period from the time that CN Rail overturned previous noise and vibration legislation to the time a new law was set into place in 2007. Noise levels increased in numerous locales, to negative effect on many communities who previously not been particularly bothered by railway operations.

  41. Jon Pindar permalink

    Advancement in locomotives and bigger trains. The problem lies moreso stateside. There are higher and higher and higher emissions levels required for locomotives in the USA as of any given build date (given in Tier values starting at 0).

    The locomotives from all major railways these days are proned to “pooling” which, in order to allow for this process (even in an indirect fashion) need to meet these requirements for emissions. Due to the fact that CN/CP operate into the US, they have to meet these requirements on new locomotive builds. A locomotive that can no operate due to not meeting US emissions requirements is absolutely useless to a Canadian class 1 railway. Flexibility is part of the fleet requirements.

    So in order to make another point, these new locomotives produced by the major players in the game Electro-Motive and General Electric, are regulated by the USA, so these engines make more noise due to emissions control.

    Another outlet then is to petition the White House its their fault too, they made these emissions standards which make our train engines so noisy in Canada.

    Honestly, I could see none of this being resolved ever. Even if a mass glut of wind turbines made the railroads the most clean mode of transportation on the planet by using wind to power their electric engines.

    Someone would have an issue of a squeaky wheel. Or the engineer who had to apply brakes into emergency to avoid an accident. Which made the flat spot on the wheel the next train took. Then disrupted someone 500 miles away because at 10mph it made a thumping noise which spilled some water while he was on his porch getting a tan.

    Its a nasty and only time and energy wasting downward spiral, which infact would lead to infinity. It will continue regardless of the time and place.

    People have beome so lazy, in general (I am taking shots at no one here) why go to a teller, hit the drive thru ATM. Pay a bill, go online. I dont have to go to a store, the store is online and they deliver free.

    Trains should have no right blocking a crossing, I gotta get my Timmies NOW!

    Patience at crossings in general is brutal. I sit and watch in my vehicle, I have seen people getting physically violent in vehicles because of being so accustomed to my way now. It is bad, very bad.

    That can even come into play with this “moving issue” if people are having so many physical ailments from these issues in regards to trains, would it not make sense instead of waiting YEARS for a potential resolution to leave, and continue the cause?

    I sure would not stay in a place that had a landlord that would not fix the leaky tub upstairs which made the cieling rot, which made black mold, which my 2 year old son would be adversely effected by.

    Its all on perspective. Even in any sort of legal case if it was brought up. If these ailments were continued for years, honestly, even any rational judge would ask WHY did you stay?

    Whistle blowing is another issue, if the municipality does nothing about a crossing, maybe those residents have not been at enough city or municipal council meetings to get their point across. Crossing protection and quite zones are bylaws, hence locally managed. Bells/lights/gates, same deal, its what the council justifies is required.

    Woodstock, where the St Thomas Sub joins the Galt Sub, was at one time, 7! tracks, with only a crossbuck, no lights, no gates. Now 2 tracks cross there, lights bells and gates. Who made that choice, the city, they help pay for it. In order to get the quiet zones up, the city councils need to dig into the budget.

    Even they are not 100% effective, case in point. I was out with my son earlier in 2010 in Ingersoll. Along Ontario Southlands line. I park my van, pull out my camera and fire off 4 shots, a dodge neon, coming to a crossing (lights no gates). It runs the lights, just as the car clears an OSR engine comes into the frame, not 20′ from the crossing. As I turned to look at the car and the 2 female adult occupants. 2 full carseats. No matter what changes can be implemented by anyone.

    Nothing, nothing at all, will cure blatent stupidity.

    Jon Pindar

    • trainjane permalink

      Mr. Pindar, thank you for making some very good points. As for the issue of emissions, we’ve been following several aspects of this problem for some time. Apparently, in the next two years, as we understand, further regulations about emissions are to be closely considered by the feds in Ottawa.

      What about the case of Railpower, the company that made Green Goats? There was simply not enough demand for their product here in Canada, despite the government trying to help keep the company afloat here. They moved their operations to the U.S….(last year or thereabouts)

      We’ve observed some really disturbing situations at crossings as well…from both perspectives. There’s the person in the car that thinks that they can “beat” the train though the crossing; and sometimes with disasterous results.

      People often do not demonstrate patience as you’ve noted, leading to careless, or even reckless decisions. Everything is about time nowadays. Stop at the crossing, and then wait for 10 minutes, or more, to cross the road. Yes, that’s what should happen, but this is where the issue of longer trains once again comes up. Longer trains…longer waits at the crossing…increased possibility of someone making an unsafe choice to try to beat it through. We can’t imagine how stressful this must be if you’re the person sitting in the locomotive.

      We’re seeing some really major traffic backups along several major routes here at crossings. There’s a 5-minute limit to how long a railway can block a road during assembly operations, but no limit if it’s a through train…

  42. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    Deadheading to railroad folks is engines or crews between terminals such as Calgary & Field. I have never heard of deadheading in a terminal. The smaller locos are disapearing,so they will be replaced by larger locos.
    When the yard engines are running around with no cars they are not just going for fun. Maby to get a crew, because the crew bus is broken. Maby to Tim Hortons
    In London the yard engine often went to Tim Hortons.
    5 min by yard engine 20 min by car. much safer to.The railways can run the locos aroung for whatever reason they want,just like a truck.It would appear your town built up beside the railway.If you chose to live in the railways back yard you are going to hear,feel & see it.It looks like a main track that is only going to get more & more traffic.The railways are lobbying to oil companys not to build a pipeline to the Pacific, Ship it on the existing railways.No permits required,much less environment damage as well.The railway occupied valleys of the Rockeys will be ringing with the sound of trains for a long,long time.
    Jeff Willsie

    • trainjane permalink

      Hello Mr. Willsie,

      An interesting practice at your railway company, that is, taking out your yard engines out to the local Tim Hortons.

      5 minutes by locomotive, 20 minutes by car…perhaps you’d like to provide us all with a comparison in fuel consumption, locomotive vs. car…

      • Walter Pfefferle permalink

        Lets see, first no whistles, then no noise, then no going across roads, then no moving of locomotives and now no Timmies. It is Christmas have a heart. May you find a lump of coal under your tree, oops it would have to be artificial as coal is not green and I would not give you something else to complain about. I am a avid railfan and don’t see half of what you do, of course I do have a life other than complaining.

        • trainjane permalink

          Hello Mr. Pfferele,

          We’re not sure where you have gotten this information, but it’s not from here…

          We’d never deny anyone that quintessential Canadian right of enjoying their java at Tim Horton’s. Taking the locomotives out for a spin in order to do so is not a particularly economical or environmentally responsible use of fuel.

          Who pays for that by the way? The fuel, not the coffee…railways or their customers?

          Thank you for your Christmas sentiments, but alas, I will pass on the coal; the family home went geothermal some time back and has been working out very well.

          All the best for the New Year.

  43. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    I dont think you read what i say. I said CP crews in London operated the yard eng to tim hortons. OSR does not operate in London. CP is of the opinion that they do not want the crews to drive off cp property in private cars due to WCB concerns.Every time you comment you show your total ignorance of railway operations.
    The bottom line is the railways were in their locations long before you were born. You like so many others chose of your own free will to move in beside the railway. Now you can either love it or list it.With all your issues you are not going to instigate any signifigant changes in your life time, so to erase your issues you should MOVE!
    Merry Christmas
    Jeff Willsie
    Pres OSR

    • trainjane permalink

      Hello Mr. Willsie,

      No matter whose locomotives they are, taking them out to the local Tim Horton’s for coffee is a not a very sustainable or forward-thinking use of resources.

      We can’t help but notice that you do not want to provide our readers on how many litres of fuel this little jaunt consumes.

      A lot of progress has been made in well under 5 years to address the issues affecting people living in proximity to railways.

      Federal railways, under the Canada Transportation Act, must contain noise and vibration to reasonable levels. The RAC and the FCM developed a Best Practices report for proximity issues, and we highly anticipate that more change is on the way.

      The biggest move that we believe that needs to take place, Mr. Willsie, is not the mass abandonment of homes that you seem to take great delight in repeating, with your present immunity from the regulatory authority that your federal rail colleagues now operate under.

      In fact, the only things that we think needs to shift around here are the detrimental attitudes such as what you have expressed.

      All the best to you in the future – and to the resident community living in Ontario Southland Railway’s footprint.

  44. Site Admin Note: This post has now been closed for comments.

    This post and its comments, of varying perspectives highlights the challenges yet to be resolved regarding railway proximity issues and communities, and the amount of work that faces the RAC, the FCM, communities, as well as individual railway companies to meet this challenge in a constructive way that fosters better relationships between all parties.

    It is our view that the core idea put forward by railway companies, of transferring all responsibility onto private citizens and expecting them move from their homes is simply not a viable or realistic option. We are disappointed that this has been “the railway point of view” as expressed in the comments submitted to this post.

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