The inferno that began burning on July 6th, 2013 in Lac Megantic Quebec is the biggest railway tragedy in Canadian history
Photo Credit: cbc

Railway Safety Coalition demanding action in Washington


Railway safety is what brought Mayor Karen Darch from Barrington, Illinois and Roger Doiron, Mayor of Richibuto, New Brunswick, to Washington today.  They are in the US capital, along with 12 other mayors as part of the Cross-Border Coalition on Railway Safety.  They’re meeting with members of the U.S. Congress and senior transport safety officials telling their stories and demanding changes to railway regulations to increase safety.

There are no borders when it comes to rail road safety in North America.  Karen Darch, Mayor of Barrington, Illinois, USA

The coalition met for the first time on December 6th, 2013 in Montreal. More than 30 Canadian and American mayors, several of them familiar with the horrors of rail explosions involving hazardous material such as crude oil and ethanol, visited Lac Megantic to see the scale of the damage done on July 6th, 2013.

In Washington today, Mayor Collete Roy-Laroche described the damage done to the town and the people of Lac Megantic after the runaway train exploded in the middle of town. © cbc/Paul Chiasson

Lac Megantic, Quebec’s Mayor, Colette Roy-Laroche is in Washington with the group.  With translation into english, she decsribed the night of July 6th, when the runaway train derailed and exploded, killing 47 people.  The fire burned for days after, the downtown centre was destroyed, and $400 million dollars later they are still trying to put people’s lives back together.

“When we understand that more than 160 tank cars carrying crude oil go through North American territory all the time it’s important that we insure that everything is done to ensure the safety of residents.”

Among other demands, the coalitions want the right to know what hazardous freight is travelling the rails through their communities.  They want emergency-response plans in place everywhere, in the event of another accident.   They want the governments to force railways to fix their tracks immediately when there are problems, to prevent accidents.  And they want the inadequate DOT-111 rail cars  that make up the majority of both the Canadian and American fleet of rail cars, retro-fitted, to be able to withstand derailments or other accidents.

This is what Mayor Karen Darch of Illinois, and Roger Doiron of New Brunswick, told the Washington media:

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