Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Four days later ...

This, for the first time, begins to sound like a true account of what happened on Saturday morning, 4 August 2007. Well done, Prince George Citizen! - BC Mary


Prince George Citizen staff
August 7, 2007

Three northbound locomotives collided with a southbound train Saturday morning along the banks of the Fraser River in Prince George. Hundreds of onlookers viewed the fire from across the river. {Snip} ...

CN Rail officials confirmed Monday that human error caused the derailment and major fire on the tracks between their BCR Industrial Site yard and their downtown Prince George yard Saturday morning at about 10:30 a.m. [Aha, now I remember: the old BCRail passenger station is on the Industrial site about 4 miles south of the City of Prince George. It's treeless flat land too, just like the downtown rail yard. But the collision occurred in neither of those rail yards. The crash took place on the east side of the Fraser River, at the foot of a steep, well-treed hillside, in plain sight of holidayers across the river in historic Fort George Park. So why did CN keep saying the crash occurred in their rail yards?? - BC Mary]

"Moving trains between our yards happens every day. It is routine. Obviously something went wrong on Saturday," said CN spokeswoman Kelli Svendsen." CN's investigation has determined employee error was the cause. The employee involved is an experienced manager who has worked in union positions doing exactly this kind of train handling. The employee is qualified."

A veteran CN employee told The Citizen on Monday, under condition of anonymity, that the manager in question was at the centre of a near miss only a week before in the same place, "but a bunch of people jumped on the train and applied hand brakes" before it crashed.

Svendsen said she knew nothing about the near miss allegation but the manager responsible for Saturday's incident would be disciplined.

"There are a lot of managers out there running trains because they are short of crews," said the rail worker, a fact confirmed by another Citizen source within CN's management.

The CN employee explained that "new employees are not getting the proper training, managers are doing unionized work, the unions have been removed from a lot of decision making, and these managers are out there handling dangerous commodities from one yard to another, bringing dangerous commodities through communities, handling millions of dollars worth of other people's property."

The manager said "it is expected of you to work 80, 90 hours a week" handling regular duties, as well as the hands-on railway work.

Svendsen said the northbound train that piled into the side of the southbound train had 53 cars being towed by three locomotives. This, according to a retired BC Rail employee, who also insisted on anonymity, was an unsafe length for that stretch of track.

"A maximum of 35 cars is all you'd ever want on that stretch of track," he said. "There is quite a slope on those tracks and you need a lot of braking power. That many cars wouldn't have enough engine brakes to be safe with that many cars."

CN officials would not discuss that aspect of the incident at this time but the current CN employee said the manager in question "was warned not to do what he did by a unionized worker. He has been pressuring people to take more cars than is recommended."

These allegations were not directly addressed by CN officials on Monday. Svendsen said that the circumstances around the incident would be inevitably examined by the Transportation Safety Board, which is already conducting a probe.

It is not the first federal investigation into a high-profile CN crash in recent years. Two days before Saturday's crash came formal charges from the federal and provincial government for the toxic spill into the Cheakamus River north of Vancouver. That incident is also the subject of a lawsuit by the Squamish First Nation. The Prince George gasoline inferno happened within a day of the two-year anniversary of the Cheakamus spill.

It was 13 months ago that Tommy Dodd, Don Faulkner and Gordon Rhodes were involved in a train crash over a cliff near Lillooet that killed Dodd and Faulkner, another in the list of high-profile incidents involving CN.

Svendsen said in spite of anecdotal criticism and some serious mishaps, CN's safety record shows a significant decrease in incidents on their main lines.

Comments (2)

written by BC Racer , August 07, 2007 (04:35:16 AM)
"obviously something went wrong" says CN, I wonder what their first clue was.
No we wait and see if something is done this time.
I for one am not going to hold my breath as it already seems like CN is trying to brush it off like nothing is wrong...
remote controlled crashups...

written by richard maynard , August 07, 2007 (09:50:16 PM)
did anybody know that the senior manager responsible for this catastrophe was using a belt pack locomotive-operator..that is; the movement was a remote controlled operation with the braking of the engines controlled by an employee on the ground. this kind of thing can happen when you have Boys playing men playing trains...

URL for this story:


But the Vancouver Province disappoints with this childish canard that it's the NDP's fault!!

NDP 'grandstanding' on CN

Nothing to do with us, minister tells opposition

Andy Ivens, with a file by Susan Lazaruk,
The Province
Published: Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The NDP is calling on the government to pass whistleblower legislation to promote safety on CN Rail's tracks.

Transportation critic David Chudnovsky released a five-point plan yesterday that also calls for the government to make public any discussions it had with CN Rail on safety issues before it sold the Crown-owned B.C. Rail to CN in 2003.

Here's what Kevin Falcon, B.C. Minister of Transportation said in reply:

"It is very presumptuous that we as a provincial government, who have no regulatory role to play, could muscle our way into a jurisdiction that we have no area to become involved with and try to tell the federal regulator how they need to regulate the railways."

The full story is at:


Yes, something went wrong alright . . . the day Campbell & his ilk landed in the Legislature using false pretenses, like we will not sell BC Rail.

These disasters NEVER happened when prior to the unconscionable sale of BC Rail to CN thanks to dirty dealing by this Campbell circle of bandits.

Keep up the great work, Detective Mary - I would not have seen that report from the Prince George Citizen if you hadn't posted it with your insightful comments.

Bring on that petition for a FULL PUBLIC INQUIRY - PLEASE.
Heard the CN flack-hack use exactly the same 'argument' as the Minister in Charge of Paving this morning on the Ceeb.



I think the CN guys and the Campbell Gang might actually be singing from the same hymn book, don't you?

This realization came over me on August 5, when each piece of astonishing CanWest misinformation seemed to be functioning to whitewash the actual details of the embarrassing CN crash "errors".

It puts a whole new slant on the Basi Virk Basi trial, don't you think?

Check Reaside re CN Rail today aug 8
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