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Communities in the News: The List Continues to Grow

by on August 28, 2011

More communities continue to surface in the news that are being affected by rail noise and vibration, diesel fumes, derailments, and safety issues such as the transporting of hazardous materials …

(1) During its August 16, 2011 meeting, Strathcona County Council postponed creation of a policy regarding train whistle cessation while it gathers additional information regarding this problem.  Council is interested in reports from other communities including liability issues, and a prioritized list of crossings that would be considered.  Council highlighted a crossing in Ardrossan, AB that would be considered for whistle cessation.  They also noted whistle cessation efforts in Leduc, AB required 10 years of effort to be successful.  See the article “Whistle bylaw still being examined”.

(2) White Rock, BC residents will not gain any relief from train whistles from the BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) railway company according to the article “Train whistles will continue through White Rock” on August 19, 2011.  Local residents sound off on this issue in “Not quiet on the western front” on August 16, 2011.

(3) The town of Parry Sound, ON is looking into better mechanisms for rail safety at CN Rail and CP Rail crossings in “Rail safety reminder needed” on August 26, 2011.  Further, the town is intent upon establishing a permanent group to monitor rail safety issues in “Town calls on the public for new rail safety committee”.

(4) A documentary film entitled Bending the Rails will make its debut on August 30, 2011 according to “Documentary delves into diesel train controversy”.  The film’s creator is Jeff Winch, a member of the Clean Train Coalition (CTC)The CTC is protesting Metrolinx’s Georgetown South Service Expansion/Union-Pearson Rail Link (GSSE/UPRL) project in Greater Toronto, ON which will increase both commuter and freight traffic.  Metrolinx is the Toronto regional transportation planning authority that was previously known as the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority.

(5) City Council in Lethbridge, AB is investigating a whistle cessation bylaw within the city in the August 10, 2011 article “City may not be whistling Dixie when it comes to train noise”Council started this process after receiving complaints from at least half a dozen residents upset with the regular 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. train whistles.  Council notes that they will have to enter into a liability insurance agreement with CP Rail in order to establish the train whistle bylaw.

(6) Safety issues continue at rail crossings in North Vancouver, BC where a truck was hit by a train on July 18, 2011.  Interestingly, train whistles were not enough to prevent this collision.  The proposed Low Level Road Improvement Project would see an overpass built over the train tracks so that collisions of this nature would be eliminated as well as giving residents much needed relief from whistling.  Another safety concern is blocked rail crossings by trains, with the potential concern of negatively impacting response time for emergency personnel.  See “Crashes, complaints bedevil North Vancouver rail crossing – Terminal access often blocked by train activity”.

(7) Several communities near Sudbury, ON are being studied as potential locations for the storage of nuclear waste.  How the nuclear waste will be transported to these locations is a question that has yet to be answered by the organizations participating in this study.  See “Nuclear Waste to be Transported through Greater Sudbury?”.

(8) CN Rail is investing $165 million dollars to expand a rail yard in Gary, Indiana to increase its capacity in the rail yards and build longer trains.  See the August 3, 2011 article “CN invests $165 million U.S. in Kirk Yards”.

(9) New Westminister, BC residents are likely to hear more rail noise as the “New West rail bridge ‘back to normal’- One month after a barge takes out rail bridge, trains are able to cross once again”.   The president of Southern Railway of B.C. admits that “We understand the issues that they have with our operations, and to the degree that we can accommodate them, we always try to accommodate them,” he said. “We continue to make investments in our railway to reduce noise.”

(10) Shipping oil by rail is once again back in the news in the article “Rail could boost oil shipping”.  The blog weighs in on this practice in the article “Don’t ship oil by rail” .  Read the Letter to the Editor in the Edmonton Journal on December 3, 2010 that reviews derailments that have affected the environment and public safety in the following commmunities: Fort Saskatchewan, AB; Wabamun Lake, AB; Prince George, BC; Squamish, BC; Montreal, QC.

(11) Risks associated with the shipment of hazardous materials by rail are clearly exemplified by an incident this year in a community near Tillsonburg, ON when an Ontario Southland Railway locomotive pulling 7 tanker cars of ethanol gas caught fire.  Fortunately the fire was quickly extinguished and a more serious crisis averted.  See “Fire doused quickly on train hauling ethanol gas” .

© Copyright 2011

  1. Ryan permalink

    Just wanted to comment on item (6). Neptune crossing is not a whistle crossing. If it was, then maybe the truck wouldn’t have been hit. As a worker for CN I don’t like blowing the whistle any more than you like hearing it, but as long as we keep hitting people and vehicles it’s not going to go away.

    • trainjane permalink

      Hello Ryan,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. We think it’s important to consider the firsthand knowledge of railway personnel such as yourself in order to consider the issues and challenges in a balanced way.

      We’d be interested in hearing what procedures are currently in place regarding the Neptune crossing in North Vancouver if you care to comment further.

      What problems do railway personnel face along the rail corridor that runs across the North Vancouver waterfront? What’s your perspective on the Low Level Road Improvement Project?

      Any further comments you’d like to share are appreciated.

  2. Ryan permalink

    My only comments about that particular area are..
    -Build the low level road project
    -close the crossings at st george and st andrews

    There is already access to Richardson grain elevator and the shipyard there via a new overpass that was built recently.

    As for neptune crossing…. It’s too busy. It needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

    • trainjane permalink

      Thanks for your response…to clarify, as St. Georges is an overpass, we believe you are referring to the St. Patricks crossing instead.

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