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Railway President Agrees: All That Matters is Money

by on March 7, 2012

The President of Ontario Southland Railway, Mr. Jeff Willsie, recently submitted the following comment to Rail and Reason.

We feel that, given Mr. Willsie’s title as President, his opinions are important enough to feature as an article to share with our readers who may find these insights to be as revealing as we have.

Mr. Willsie’s opening comments about Mr. Bossart are in reference to our previous post, entitled “The Social Impact of Railways.”

Mr. Willsie’s Comment:

Train Jane, you seem quite taken with Mr. Bossart’s letter. I hope you read the part where he suggests I may well be retired before the rail industry has to productively address the impact of their business on people and the environment. I won’t retire for at least another 10 years, if ever. So, if you stay living beside the railway you have at least 10 more years of aggravation and as I have written before moving is your best option!

Kevin O’Leary (CBC) said, ‘All that really matters is money.’ I agree. Business generates all the money for everything in this country, all the infrastructure, all the civil servants wages & benefits, all municipal spending, welfare, healthcare, absolutely everything which makes business the most powerful political force in Canada.

Railways carry a vast amount of business product and as the cost of oil increases more & more business products will travel by rail as it is far more efficient than trucking. As oil disappears, the railways will be electrified and most freight will travel by rail to transfer locations all across Canada.

The portion of the Canadian population living beside the railway is, I shall guess at 2%, of that number I shall guess 1% whine and complain about the noise, vibration and diesel fumes which is a problem created by these folks personal decision to live beside the railway.

When the government cannot get enough money from business and their employees, they borrow. The borrowing is the cause of the global financial problems today. Governments are actively promoting more business to generate more money to pay for our civilization.

The government is not going to restrict the operation of the railways that carry the products of business across our great country. The need of the 98% of the population not living beside the railway trumps the need of the 2% that live beside a railway corridor and complain about the very nature of the railway.

We are entering the next golden age of rail as oil disappears. My grandfather, a locomotive engineer on the double track New York Central railway in St. Thomas, Ontario said in the 1940s there was a train every 10 minutes in both directions 24/7. In the not too distant future, single tracks shall be doubled, double tracks shall be tripled and more yards will be built.

As oil disappears, no more air planes and folks will be back on the rails. What a glorious future for electrified rail. If you do not like living by the railway you should move now as volumes are now starting to increase and this will not stop over the next 100 years. I’m sure there will be an unstoppable 75 to 100 percent increase in rail traffic. I read Mr. Bossart’s blog and he seems quite intelligent so I’m sure he can see that in the oil-less world electrified railways shall be the transportation king!”

Jeff Willsie, President
Ontario Southland Railway


Rail and Reason’s Response:

Hello Mr. Willsie,

Yes, we are impressed with the comments that Mr. Bossart has submitted to us, as well as his own blog, We’re impressed as he obviously cares about his community and takes an active interest in it.

We’re also impressed with how your writing has improved literally overnight in your comments to this blog!

As to when exactly when “the rail industry has to productively address the impact of their business on people and the environment,” we’ll bet that change is already well underway.

You are, of course, likely well aware of Bill S-4, The Safer Railways Act, one of the Bills earmarked for your industry, currently before Parliament in Ottawa.

“All that matters is money,” a quote you cite and agree with.

We don’t agree. We believe that people, the environment, and safety matters as well. So does Parliament in Ottawa apparently.

We provide several recent quotes from Senator Terry M. Mercer about this much- needed piece of legislation:

“…While there are many other aspects to this bill, it is clear that safety is of the utmost importance to the industry. We have similar safety systems in place in the air and marine sectors, so it seems only natural that rail should be brought in line with those industries.”

“…Railway companies are no more above the law than any other company when it comes to safety.”

“…The bill also strengthens the transportation department’s powers by introducing administrative monetary penalties, or AMPs, and increasing judicial penalties.”

“…The maximum administrative monetary penalty is $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for corporations. I also believe that these are per day and until compliance is reached.

“…The maximum judicial fines are $1 million for corporations, which is up from $200,000, and $50,000 for individuals, which is up from $10,000. For summary convictions, fines are increased to a maximum of $500,000 for corporations, up from $100,000, and $25,000 for individuals, again up from $5,000.”

“…I believe this will not only ensure more compliance, but act as a deterrent to possible deficiencies in company safety procedures, let alone adherence to them.”

So, putting the almighty dollar first and foremost might be a very expensive proposition in the not-so distant future Mr. Willsie!

Further, we note that the objective of the Safer Railways Act is to “promote and provide for the safety and security of the public and personnel, and the protection of property and the environment, in railway operations.”

As for the percentage of Canadians living by railways, we’ll forgo the guesswork and just ask you outright how many people do railway operations have to negatively and significantly affect before it matters?

As for the folks that “whine and complain’ about the railway’s noise, vibration and fumes, we hope you are well aware that Ontario Southland Railway’s current immunity from federal regulations regarding these issues also may likely run out well before your retirement.

Under “Agreements to apply transportation law to provincial railways,” section 157.1 (1) of the Bill, it states that:

“The Minister may enter into an agreement with a provincial minister responsible for transportation matters providing for the administration, in relation to persons who operate railways within the legislative authority of the province, of any law respecting

(a) accident investigations and railway crossings; or

(b) railway noise and vibration, or the regulation of the rates and conditions of service of railway companies, to the extent that those matters are governed by this Act.”

We do agree that we well might be entering the next golden age of rail. We predict it will be one marked by increased regulation to better enforce safety in rail operations, while protecting the public and the environment from any railway executive that believes that all that matters is money.”

© Copyright 2012

  1. Gary Prokovich permalink

    Willsie and the CLOWNS. Get a job at thje PNE. It suits your mentality.

  2. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    I have no problem with safety improving. However railway will not be shut down from 2300 hrs till 0700 hrs because you do not like the vibration & noise. Business will not tolerate it.
    If you do not like the issues of living by the railway you should move.You chose to move in & moving will resolve your problems.
    I can not explane it more simply than that.
    Jeff Willsie
    Ontario Southland Railway

    • trainjane permalink

      We’d just like to point out to you, Mr. Willsie, that when you stated that “all that matters is money,” you did not mention anything about safety.

      We, in fact, pointed that out to you, and your comments in regards to rail safety were made only after the fact.

    • Not Willsie permalink

      If you do not care about the public opinion , why are you still here?
      I believe you are here because of fear. You know regulation is coming and you are trying to convince yourself otherwise.

      I think we can all agree that the expansion of rail is positive in many different ways. There are no arguments about it. Even the harshest critics of rail effects on urban population will have to agree with this.
      Now how you conduct this expansion and how you deal with your sector criticism is something different. You seem to be from an old generation that does not seem to realise or care about these issues. A ever-more rare breed of businessman that is falling into irrelevance and is not prepared to lead for the future.

      Fighting your critics won’t solve any problems, Mr. Willsie. Why not engage positively in debate and in finding ways to improve your company relations?

      After all, if the public is not satisfied with your sector, they will be sure to favour public officials that will give you a hard time.

  3. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    One more thing, you write about more regulation like i should be shaking in my boots. Actually i get along with the transport canada folks very well & as most of them are older railway folks from their respactive crafts. THEY THINK JUST LIKE ME.
    They have to be politially correct, i do not.
    As for safety, CN has an operating ratio of about 65% with a so,so safety record
    CP has about 80% operating ratio and as i undestand it this is the safest class 1 railway.
    OSR has a 97.5% operating ratio with the money mostly going for safer infrastructure.OSR is without a doubt the safest shortline in Canada.
    Transport Canada & myself get along reasonably well. They like how i improve everything each year. They also like most of my opinions.
    Trains will be operating 24/7 for a long long time. Buisness demand it.
    You write a much better letter than i but at least i know what in talking about in relation to railways.
    Also if i moved into a property next to the farmers manuer pile & did not like the smell i would be smart enough to just move away rather than whine forever to the farmer about the smell.
    Have a great day
    Jeff Willsie

    • trainjane permalink

      Hello Mr. Willsie,

      It’s good to hear that you get along with the folks at Transport Canada.

      We can’t imagine being the President of a railway company and not having a good working relationship with the department that you are accountable to.

      However, our comments were not in reference to Transport Canada, but rather, to Parliament itself, the point of origin for the rules and regulations that Transport Canada administers.

  4. Dan Vernackt permalink

    I disagree with your statement Jane. The rules and regulations are developed by the major stakeholders, being the railways & Transport Canada. It is the input from these two major groups that creates the rules and regs. Then it is passed in Parliament and enacted into law.

    • trainjane permalink

      Where we disagree, Mr. Vernackt, is that we believe that major stakeholders also include the resident public and railway customers.

      Without customers, railways would not have any business, and these customers, at times, have been very vocal with Government over their problems with rail service, and have pressed the federal government to further regulate the industry to rectify this.

      Please see our former post “Forestry Industry Asks for Rail Service to be Regulated.”

  5. Jeff Willsie: Thank you for exposing a few things through your posts:

    1) Whether you agree or disagree with “Train Jane” (and it’s very obvious), taking a rude and shove-it stance (as for you, this is a pattern, so it shows) reveals character. Character cannot be changed – behaviours can. Even some of the most disliked people have a way, through their behaviour, to debate and articulate that at least earns them some respect. Unfortunately, I cannot even “hear” you in your posts as they are so rude, one just tunes them out.
    2) If the tables were turned and something was negatively impacting you and your family or those that you love, you would not want to hear someone berate you and basically say “move” or whatever the situation may be. Show compassion to all my friend.
    3) The Titanic was supposedly “unsinkable” and what seems to be a karma thing in life is that those that are so high and mighty in what they build or what they represent, often are so wrong.
    4) Please note, “explane” is actually explain

    Thank you

  6. Jeff Willsie permalink

    Hi Train Jane
    Where i stand is that the shareholders shall decide the future direction of CP which is as it should be. Regardless of who is at the helm of CP the trains shall operate, regardless of the opinions of that less than 1% of those folks who have moved in to the backyard of the railway & want to complain about the very nature of the railway. The operation of the railway 24/7 is vital for the economic future of our country. Taking my comment about “all that matters is money” out of context shows just how desparate you are to further your opinion.
    I think the shareholders & the customers will want to keep those trains running 24/7.
    As for why i respond to this blog,its fun to point out how foolish you
    nimbys realy are.
    Jeff Willsie
    Ontario Southland Railway

    • trainjane permalink

      Hello Mr. Willsie,

      It would appear that some of the beleaguered Directors at CP Rail left before the actual vote by shareholders…

      We further disagree that your prior comment that “all that matters is money” was taken out of context. Initially, you did not place any conditions on this statement.

      It wasn’t until we reminded you of some of the conditions that you neglected to consider prior that you expressed second thoughts…a dire omission in your pursuit of so-called “foolish” fun, in our opinion.

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