Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Trainmen considering criminal charges against CN after train wreck killed Don Faulkner and Tom Dodd, seriously injuring Gordon Rhodes
Memorial for 2006 derailment victims unveiled
Bridge River, Lilloet News - July 29, 2009
Lillooet – Rail employees past and present unveiled a memorial to two trainmen who died in a 2006 derailment last Thursday afternoon at Downton Park beside the museum.
John Holliday, general chairman of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, spoke first. He recounted the story of CN Engine 9606.
On June 29, 2006, the engine, with one lumber car attached, was heading back to Lillooet for the night.
The train derailed when the brakes on the car and locomotive failed to control the train’s descent down the winding tracks and steep grade of the mountains.
The train car derailed first, eventually coming to rest 1,000 feet down the mountain. Soon after, the locomotive also derailed and slid about 800 feet down.
Conductor Don Faulkner and brakeman Tom Dodd both died. Gordon Rhodes, the engineer, survived but was badly injured.
The report from the federal Transportation Safety Board (TSB), released last May, blamed inadequate brakes for the accident.
The board noted that CN did not perform a risk assessment before removing engines with “dynamic braking”, better suited for the mountains than CN Engine 9606, from the route.
Dodd and Faulkner’s fellow union members volunteered to build the memorial with the support of the District of Lillooet.
The volunteers erected a stone cairn topped with the bell of CN Engine 9606, salvaged from the wreck.
Rocks for the cairn were collected from the banks of the Thompson River.
Holliday gave “a big thanks to retired conductor and master stonemason Clive Casey” for doing the cairn’s stonework.
Former district councillor Marg Lampman delivered a statement on behalf of the local member of the federal Parliament, Chuck Strahl.
Harry Lali, the provincial member of the legislative assembly for the area, then spoke.
“As we remember Tom and Don…I would also like to point out how close Gordon Rhodes came to losing his life,” he said.
He added that Rhodes’s survival was key to finding out the truth about what happened in the train’s final moments.
Both Lali and Lampman cited the importance of workplace safety in light of the accident.
“We remember Tom and Don and at the same time, we hope for the safety of all workers,” said Lali.
Later, in an interview, he added, “TSB squarely laid the blame on faulty, inadequate equipment.”
He urged the federal government to enact tougher safety standards in the transport industry and enforce existing regulations more diligently.
“Transport Canada should do their jobs.
“The ball’s squarely in the federal Ministry of Transportation’s lap.”
Lali also said that the province is partly responsible as well in that it sold B.C. Rail but did not ensure that CN upheld the former’s safety standards.
Holliday expressed similar sentiments in an interview in the wake of the TSB report’s release.
He said of CN‘s safety policy, “They only do what’s required by law.
“What’s needed is a change in the law.
“I would like to see Transport Canada have more teeth.”
Holliday added that the union has long demanded adherence to B.C. Rail’s more stringent standards.
“We have been working since Day One when CN bought B.C. Rail.”
But, he said, the railway was unlikely to act unless safety issues begin to hurt profits.
“Safety in the transportation industry is compromised by the bottom line.”
For CN change its ways, he said, “The price of the stock would have to drop.”
According to Holliday, the Teamsters are now in the process of pursuing criminal charges and a civil suit against CN in relation to the accident. He said he hopes the case goes to trial so that the railway’s actions are made public.
The cairn’s unveiling was followed that evening with a reunion of former B.C. Rail employees.
CN Rail slammed for deadly derailment
Accident occurred after CN Rail took over B.C. Rail and changed operating procedures
BY ANDY IVENS
THE PROVINCE - MAY 29, 2009
In the frantic minutes before he died, Tom Dodd heroically scampered across a flatbed rail car loaded with lumber to try to save the lives of fellow crew members on a runaway train.
Moments later, the car Dodd was on went flying off the tracks on the Kelly Lake hill 27 miles north of Lillooet, tumbling 1,000 feet down the steep hill.
“I’m very proud of him,” Tom’s brother Barry Dodd said Thursday, as the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s report into the June 29, 2006 incident was published.
Tom Dodd, 55, the conductor, and trainman Don Faulkner, 59, both died in the derailment.
Two miles down the hill from where the flatbed car derailed, the locomotive went off the rails with Faulkner and engineer Gordon Rhodes outside the cab looking in vain for a soft place to safely jump off.
But the locomotive was by then hurtling down the 2.2-percent grade at about 60 m.p.h.
It rolled 800 feet down the hill and burst into flames. Rhodes suffered serious injuries but survived.
Barry Dodd said his courageous brother was trying right to the bitter end to use the hand brake at the back end of the flatbed car to slow it down.
“The thing didn’t have any brakes and it went off the track,” Dodd told The Province.
“I guess it did slow down for a bit because the engine got ahead.”
The report slams CN Rail, which had taken over BC Rail in July 2004.
When BCR ran trains on the mountainous route, they used locomotives with dynamic braking (DB) — which engage the engine to exert torque on the drive wheels in the opposite direction the train is going.
But three months before the fatal incident, CN Rail decided to take the engines with dynamic brakes off the run, called the Exeter Switcher, in favour of smaller locomotives equipped only with air brakes.
“In this situation, no consideration was given to the need for supplemental DBs for the safe descent of mountain grades and there was no formal risk assessment performed before removing DB-equipped locomotives from this territory,” said the TSB report.
“I’m happy with the report,” said Barry Dodd. “They are a very thorough outfit.
“They didn’t pull any punches.
“We agree with their report, that CN wasn’t checking how the other people [BCR] ran it.
“It was only three months before that they pulled the dynamic braking (DB) engines off,” said Dodd.
“[CN] didn’t check with BCR on how they ran their railroad. They just did it their way and it caused some problems.”
The report said: “Had the train been controlled with DB, the 40,000-pound DB capacity would have been sufficient to maintain the speed at the 20 m.p.h. limit without any use of the train air brakes or the locomotive independent brake, significantly reducing the risk of loss of control.”
The report recommended CN “take effective action to identify and mitigate risks to safety as required by its safety management system.”
Dodd has fond memories of his brother, who is survived by a son and daughter.
“He was a good person,” said Barry Dodd. “He liked hunting and fishing, and skiing.”
John Holliday, general chairman of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference local that represents CN employees in B.C., said actions taken by CN managers could be criminal.
“We’re going to talk with our lawyers about having CN charged under the Westray Act,” Holliday said of the law that holds a supervisor accountable for the on-the-job safety.
“We have been concerned since Day 1 that CN has been ignoring the operating experience of BC Rail.
“BC Rail is a mountain-grade railway. It’s a little bit steeper, the curves are a little bit tighter,” said Holliday.
“We’re working to bring CN up to the operating and maintenance standards of BC Rail.”
The TSB report noted that CN instituted a policy change in February this year: “Southward trains on the Lillooet Subdivision between Kelly Lake, Mile 192.6 and Polly, Mile 162, must operate with Dynamic Brake equipped locomotives.”
Stunning photo HERE.
Dramatic description of a similar terrible train ride and fatal derailment near Trail which took the life of Lonnie Plasko who was engineer for Kootenay Valley Railway, a short line operating within CPR. Read the story HERE.
Here are three Youtube videos:
BC Rail - Full 'DB' [Dynamic Brakes] All the Way Down to Lillooet
or click HERE.
BC Rail Lilloet Sub - The Treacherous Climb
or click HERE.
CN cost-cutting blamed for deadly derailment
for computer-generated replay showing the terrain, the grade, the acceleration, and the derailments, click HERE.
I remember Don Faulkner for his belief in this blog and the necessity for people like me, to speak up for BC Rail. It was good to read about this memorial. Sincere thanks to those who built it. Best wishes to Gordon Rhodes and to all who are proud to say that they were once BCRail trainmen. - BC Mary.
Of course BC is one of the least likely Provinces to utilise it. Even though over 150 workers die on the job every year here in BC...go figure?
Nobody in real life could be so cold-hearted as to use the memorial for two brave trainmen ...
a memorial for two brave trainmen ...
to complain that some unseen force compels you to visit this blog ...
and you aren't finding the news you want.
But here's a clue, B&T: this site is focused on BC Rail ... and not so much on Basi, Virk, Basi except as their trial reveals what happened to BC Rail.
Two excellent men were killed and the Transportation Safety Board finds that the trainwreck occurred because of changes made when BCRail was sold ... leased ... given away ... whatever ...
That's how it works, pal. News has to happen before it's reported. Took 3 years for that TSB report, for example.
Nope, you can't be real. Surely the P.A.B. is desperate if this is the best they can do to provide a distraction AWAY from Gordo and back onto Basi & co.
I should've deleted your comment, I suppose. But I thought it might be fun if you told us more about how "careless" you are about what happens.
Does somebody force someone who is, say, bored and tired to punch http://bctrialofbasi-virk.blogspot.com/ into their interwebz browser?
I do not work for the PAB or the the Provice nor am I an employee of the Province of BC, nor a contractor. I am just a citizen who wants this to get court where the Facts can be heard, all the Facts, and no more of these side-show voir dires which have the serious risk of quashing any real trial.
As for being a Campbell fan, I am NOT. I would love to hear evidence that Collins instructed or winked at Basi while suggesting plans of action in respect of the sale of Rail BC, and how to keep other bidders engaged.
I want to see Basi, Virk, Basi, have their day in court to tell their side of the story.
Bring it on.
I mean, what are you hoping for? DO you want the trial to go ahead or not? I dont think Rail BC isnt coming back to the people. Get over it.
Thanks for coming back, B&T.
I can't figure out why you visit this blog without actually reading it.
How many times have I said that if we hear the evidence at trial, we'll know what happened to BC Rail ... and that what happened to BC Rail was repeated in various designs on BC Hydro, BC Gas, BC Ferries, BC rivers, BC medical records ...
Has he or she been paying attention?
Or.....Put another way, has he or she heard and/or read (at this very blog) about Mdme. Justice Bennett's ruling on communications between between Messr's Basi and Virk with their superiors that she, herself, decided are relevant to the matter of 'innocence at stake'.
Well, if not he or she could just head up to Mary's search box and type that phrase in.
Heckfire, I'll even do it for him or her.
Out of respect for the trainmen, your latest comment has been deleted.
You have a point. But it is off-topic. Plus -- if only you would read this blog! -- partisan politics has no place here.
My motto -- with regard to the Basi-Virk / BC Rail Case -- is that we're all affected by what happened to BC Rail ... and then to BCHydro, BCFerries etc etc.
So we're all in this together.
Who's paying for their silence? That's a no brainer, I would think! Otherwise, why wouldn't they just spill their guts, if indeed they are just "fall guys" for the REAL criminals who are benefiting the most from the Campbell Crime Spree.
Are you bored and tired of the fact that two men are possibly being set up to take the fall for someone in government? Are you bored and tired of the fact that the government may have knowingly and deliberately erased thousands of emails, that would prove Basi and Virk innocent, and a government official guilty instead? Are you bored and tired of NOT KNOWING what has been done in your name? Are you bored and tired of not knowing the facts surrounding the sale of BC Rail? How much was paid? Did some of the funding for payment involve the use of 151.7 million dollars of BC Rail employees pension contributions...you know...the contributions that give CN a "contribution holiday" for many years? Are you satisfied with the sales document that is so heavily redacted it is totally useless to the citizens of BC? Knowing the "whole" truth is what is important here, not just the 'facts' that Campbell would prefer you know.
Are you bored and tired of fighting for your rights as an owner, to know the truth...no matter how long it takes? You don't give a damn? Then why take the time to come here and complain about it? What this blog is doing is connecting the dots for you - so you don't have to work so hard to find the truth on your own -- because if you're as tired and bored as you say you are, it's obvious that you wouldn't search for it on your own. Accepting what the government says, and does, these days without question and without your own fact checking, is very dangerous to your rights as a citizen. More importantly, it's even more dangerous to the future of your children and grandchildren.
It just might be time for you to wake up vs. being tired - and get excited vs. being bored. Start asking the right questions. Some of the answers might just make you give a damn after all. I'm sorry, but you sound more like someone afraid of the real truth coming out than someone who really doesn't give a damn. Even if BC Rail can't come back to it's rightful owners - this blog and others like are showing the government that they are being watched closely...and that they can run, but they can't hide forever. It may also show in the end that their arrogance is no longer tolerable, and no one is above the law. Not even a sitting government.
"i want to see those culpible thrown in jail. "
It would help if PAB trolls learned to spell, huh? ("culpable").
This post seems to have convicted Basi Virk and Basi and seems to regard the discussions of the real criminals and as-yet-to-be-laid real charges, i.e. on those who gave them their orders as being "side tracked" and a "distraction".
I do wonder what kind of pill jars they keep next to the water cooler at the Public Affairs Bureau. They should maybe provide dictionaries too (and some books on basic logic/rhetoric).
"I mean, what are you hoping for? DO you want the trial to go ahead or not? I dont think Rail BC isnt coming back to the people. Get over it."
You claim not to be PAB and claim to not support Campbell, but if it walks like a duck......we could really care less about Gary Collins winking, it's Gordon Campbell's emails and orders that WE are interested in ("sidetracking", as you've called it).
I don't think people here are going to shut up just because you're bored - "get over it". With cynical fools like you out there, BC Rail really will never be regained; what's needed is for people to start caring, and getting angry.
Resigning yourself to only seeing a few petty underlings sent to jail for the criminally-tainted sale of one of the most important crown corporations in the province is what's boring, and disappointing. You just want someone to be convicted, even if it's not the right person/people.
But really I think you're PAB and wanting to drill the game on the Basi Virk Basi crew and want to deflect from the larger and much more important crimes at the higher level. Charges and convictions in which would result in the cancellation of the BC Rail/CN Rail deal.
But go ahead, be cynical and pooh-poohing some more...you're kind of entertaining....say hi to Lara from all of us OK?
remember, it was teh cops evesdropping on Basi's loose lips that caused this whole mess in the first place.
SO lets have the trial, and lets hear the evidence. I would LOVE it. But methinks/suspects you wouldnt.
Come on, lets get this inside a court room and lets hear it ALL, the good the bad and the ugly.
"Leah, I am bored and tired by your assumption of innocence for Basi and Virk. I am not so covinced and will remain so until this thing go to trail."
I don't think most people here are concerned about the innocence or guilt of Basi and Virk. They were minor actors at best. They neither had the influence they are accused of selling nor likely guilty of more than following the orders of their criminal masters, namely the CEO premier, the Ferret and the apparently impossible to locate today, Judith Reid, transportation minister at the time of the BC Rail theft.
BTW, why is "this thing (going to) go to trail." You must be mixed up with Cominco and Canadian Pacific. This has to do with CN, Montreal, the United States and organized crime (the BC liaRs).
I'm guessing B & T is a member of the PABlum Brigade, let loose for part of the summer from the basement of the Ledge, brown nosing by working for the criminal cause while vacationing near Qualicum Beach.
You won't be commenting on this thread any more ... because, in my imagination, I have 4 or 5 big BCRail trainmen who agree that this section of my blog is a memorial to lost comrades. They just tossed you overboard.
If you do have anything constructive to say, find a different thread. If you have secret info. for my ears alone (ha ha), send a comment headed NOT FOR PUBLICATION.
B&T...it will be up to Mary as to whether you'll see this comment or not - though your comments won't be posted to this thread, I know you'll be back to read it. I'd like to clear up, or correct your assumptions about what I think.
First and foremost, this thread is about two men who died needlessly.
As BC Rail employees, their last trip was taken many times before, without incident. But then, BC Rail knew what they were doing, and the safety of their workers was paramount. Not so with CN it would appear. These men and their families, have paid for CN's "bottom line" with their lives. Let's give them respect.
Second, Basi and Virk were appointed to their positions, not hired per the usual route. That tells me there was a special niche for them to fill, and that something in their working past made them stand out. What on earth was the government doing with the sale of BC Rail, that it would need the services of "fixers" as B&V have been referred to in the past. Start here to find out why we are so passionate about the TRUTH of this trial, and why it's important to do it right the FIRST time around.
Do I believe them to be totally innocent of ALL charges? No, but I'm waiting for the courts to prove that, and they will. Do I believe them to be guilty of ALL charges? Absolutely not. I'm waiting for the courts to prove that too.
They were/are messengers for someone in the background who doesn't have the integrity to step forward and take their own medicine. I'm not willing to have the messengers shot without knowing WHO sent them, and what the message was. Then the law can have 'em both, for a long time.
Basi's "loose lips" are something that perhaps everyone in BC should be thankful for - or few if any would ever know about the corruption surrounding this sale in particular, and the government in general. You refer to it as a "mess." It's only a mess because the premier has chosen to make it such, and to such a degree that his own integrity and that of his government is now in question...with proof to back up that assumption. Unless they magically find all those thousands of missing emails of course.
I'm not sure if you've been sleeping through it, but Basi/Virk lawyers have been fighting for FIVE freakin' years to get ALL the good, bad and ugly truth out where the public can see it. They should never have had to fight the government and its consultants this hard, to get what they feel is needed to defend their clients. Normally they wouldn't if there wasn't interference, obfuscation, delay, delay, delay...
Unfortunately, much of the evidence they need for proof of their own case depended on emails that "someone" (guess who) in government ordered destroyed during the last election. Destroyed many years ahead of when they should have been, and well after the defense had called for them, so saying they didn't know they were to kept would be a fib. That is against the law. There are a number of issues being fought in this trial, that takes time...and a great deal of patience.
Now had you asked me whether or not I thought the whole truth would come to light as a result of this trial - I would tell you "no." I don't think the trial will end as a result of natural conclusion...I think it will be declared a mistrial because if the real truth were to come out, there would be considerably more at stake than whether or not two junior players were taking bribes. That is why the email issue has been fought so hard by both sides - it's why they disappeared.
In any event - please take your frustration out on those who really caused it. Not Mary, not us.