Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lac-Mégantic, Three Weeks Later

It's been 22 days since the terrible derailment and disaster at Lac-Mégantic. The community is no doubt still in shock and trying to make sense of the disaster. It is believed that 47 people died, although some have yet to be identified. The CBC says life is slowly returning to normal but I can't imagine the town will be anything like "normal" for a long time.

The federal government has promised $60 million in aid for the town, matching the province of Quebec's contribution. About 1,000 runners ran the 12 km from the Eastern Townships to Lac-Mégantic to raise money for the victims.

A lot of focus has been placed on the operation of MMA trains by a single crew person. This Eastern Railroad News article talks about the introduction of single-person crews. In theory a one-person crew can operate a train but I have questions about the operation of main line trains by single crews, mainly what might happen if the crew-person has health issues while operating the train.

The Transportation Safety Board has posted a Rail Advisory Letter after the accident, advising Transport Canada to consider reviewing its procedures on unattended trains. Transport Canada has issued an emergency directive disallowing one-man operation for trains with tank cars, as well as other directives for unattended trains. New Brunswick Southern Railway has announced changes to its operating procedures, although it never left main line trains unattended anyway.

Of course, the lawsuits have begun, with a class-action suit naming pretty much anyone with any involvement.

A fellow named Mathieu Huchette posted a photo purportedly of the lead engine (MMA 5017) on fire at Nantes, just prior to the train rolling away.

The MMA has laid off a large portion of its employees (19/80 in Canada and 79/179 in the USA) due to the continued closure of the line through Lac-Mégantic. The company is reported to be struggling financially, and its Farnham, Quebec offices were raided by police looking for information for their investigation.

Much more to come.

PS - Eastern Rail News have other related articles on their news page but they are subscription-only. Consider subscribing - it's quite inexpensive right now.

No comments: