Tuesday, August 07, 2007

 

One CN locomotive had no driver!

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SUNDAY, AUGUST 5, 2007 the Vancouver Sun had a story about the CN train crash in Prince George, B.C. People are saying that -- of the two CN trains involved in the smash-up -- one locomotive had no driver. At least, if you look very carefully, that might be what the Sun's half-line is saying in Paragraph #6 (below). Or it might not.

Vancouver Sun pulled this story later in the day. Yes, it vanished. Luckily, I had kept a copy of it ... which is pasted below. There are several odd things about this story, but the most odd is its failure to clearly point out the driverless locomotive:

* why was a loaded train on the mainline track with no driver?
* why, in particular, was a train loaded with hazardous material operated with no driver?
* according to photos, the crash happened on the far side of the Fraser River on a steep, heavily-treed hillside,
* why does CanWest insist that the crash occurred in the CN yard?
* the CN rail yard is on First Avenue (sometimes called Railway Avenue) which is flatland, on the shore of the Nechako River,
* people enjoying historic Fort George Park on the B.C. Day weekend actually SAW the crash directly across the river from them. They photographed it (see YouTube). Why keep saying the crash occured somewhere else??
* why haven't key people been interviewed for this story?
* why avoid mentioning the startling fact that ONE CN LOCOMOTIVE HAD NO DRIVER?
* is CanWest trying to whitewash this story?
* if so, who are they trying to protect?

It looks to me as if the public is being asked to swallow something unpalatable. You decide. Here's the story which caused CanWest second thoughts:

CLEAN UP CONTINUES FOLLOWING CN RAIL COLLISION

Vancouver Sun
Published: Sunday, August 05, 2007

Clean-up crews remain on scene in Prince George today mopping up after two trains collided in CN's rail yard Saturday.

"Track repairs are underway," Kelli Svendsen, CN Rail spokeswoman, said in an interview early Sunday afternoon.

Svendsen said trains were expected to begin moving again later today.

Saturday's collision, which occurred around 10:30 a.m., sent three locomotives from one train and four cars from another off the rails. One of the locomotives caught fire, but was later put out. Two tanker cars carrying gasoline and a freight car carrying lumber burned.

CN spokesman Jim Feeny said a fourth car, carrying diesel, did not ignite.

At least one of the trains involved in the accident was staffed at the time of the crash; however, no one was injured.

Witness Aaron Prince told Global TV that the crash seemed to happen in slow motion, as crews on one train appeared to try and take evasive action.

"I think the driver knew what was going to happen," Prince said:

Fire crews from Prince George dumped fire retardant foam on the blaze from a water bomber and from hoses on the ground manned by more than 25 fire fighters.

After a night of putting out stubborn spot fires, crews packed up their gear by 10:30 a.m. and left.

"We're all done," said assistant fire chief Jim Sampson. Sampson said the fire could have been much worse, given that some of the rail cars were carrying dangerous fuels.

The rail yard is next to the Fraser River and Feeny said some gasoline spilled from the tankers, but Svendsen said no product made its way into the water.

Several families living around the crash site were temporarily evacuated Saturday over worries particulates from the fire may prove hazardous to people's health. The evacuation order was lifted hours later, however.

Investigations by CN officials and the federal Transportation Safety Board began Sunday in an effort to determine what went wrong.

The crash follows news that Environment Canada has laid five charges against CN Rail for the environmental impact of the derailment of a freight train in Cheakamus Canyon two years ago.

The charges could result in up to $5 million in fines, said provincial Environment Minister Barry Penner.

Two of the charges -- depositing a deleterious substance into waters frequented by fish and depositing a deleterious substance under conditions where it may enter water frequented by fish -- are under the federal Fisheries Act.
The other three -- introducing a business waste, introducing waste produced by a prescribed industry and introducing waste and causing pollution -- are under the B.C. Environmental Management Act.

The first court date has been set for Oct. 3 in North Vancouver Provincial Court.
In August 2005, nine rail cars flipped into the canyon north of Squamish, causing 40,000 litres of caustic soda to spill into the Cheakamus River, killing at least 500,000 trout, salmon and other fish.

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Comments:
Kudos to you, Mary, for pointing out all the BS involved with this story. I am totally unfamiliar with PG as the one time I passed through there the smog was so bad I could barely see well enough to find a gas station. I couldn't see the signs until I was almost past them.

Operating trains with NO crew is probably the CN management's equivalent of a wet dream come true.

All the news seems to try to emphasize the good points, like the diesel burned, thus it only polluted the air (which they are used to in PG) and not the river. And the CN management try to make the stats seem to indicate things are getting better. So there were 70 something accidents last year and only 60 something this year....does that take into acount that this year is just over half over, or are they talking about the same time last year? I tend to doubt it.

We want our Rail Road back, we want BC Rail back. Let CN play railroad roulette on the prairies where it isn't so dangerous, though they did do a bang up job wrecking that lake in Northern Alberta.
 
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