Sunday, September 20, 2009


A cry for help from old BCRail

Friends: I am still sick with a heavy cold and can't sort this out ... and the final paragraph is so important. Gordon Rhodes is speaking. Gordon was the lone survivor of a CN trainwreck himself, which took the lives of two other trainmen. The following was sent by North Van's Grumps.
- BC Mary.


This is as simple as ABC etc. [writes N.V.G.]


And now, here's my invisible friend Kootcoot who wanted to make those enormous links accessible ... Koot writes as follows:

These extremely long, ugly and mal-formed links are not working links - however, the information included in them may help the clever soul to start at and use some of the rest of the info to find the particular pages that NVG is trying to point to! -

The Links weren't working anyway, and at least now they aren't pushing Mary's Blog formatting all out of shape!

(repair attempted by kootcoot, but I can't figure out what are the correct links)

This one I focused on the Letter B,

Top of the list BC Rail Group:
Rail transport safety

Right below Rail "transport safety" is Gordon Rhodes with a zinger of a statement:

I meant Transport Canada. I feel that Transport Canada dropped the ball with the sale of B.C. Rail.

The way I look at it is this: CN is a big multinational corporation with railways going from Mexico to Canada; they have bought and absorbed many railways into their system, and they're experts at doing that. The problem here is that they absorbed one railway they had no expertise in. They thought they did, but they don't. Their arrogance is what happened, in the sense that they came in and took our GOI, general operating instructions, of probably some 50 years of railroad knowledge on how to run trains on that track, but they were going to do it their way because they wanted it all homogenized. They wanted it all one way, and that was it. They didn't listen to anybody, but just plowed ahead with their system.

Transport Canada didn't have anybody in position to have the knowledge to recognize that—or maybe there's just no legislation. I don't know. But they fell short in ensuring there was a proper transition going from the provincial regulations to the federal regulations. They fell short in recognizing the differences and what was needed, and because of that we've had all these accidents. Those accidents were preventable.

You're talking about a piece of track where we used to run five to seven trains a day, and CN ran two mega-trains. They tried to run two trains, and if you look at the accident ratio they have to the accident ratio we had—meaning B.C. Rail—it's night and day. It really is.

They can come in here and say all the fancy stuff they want, but the numbers, the realities, are there.

The answer is: we should've kept BC Rail in BC public ownership, to preserve and protect it as the lifeline of this province, enjoying not only the economic health of the interior towns it served but the general revenue from its operations.

We should have kept BC Rail.

Thanks for finding this, North Van's Grumps. - BC Mary


The 2006 derailment was north of Pavilion. That is 30-some km north of Lillooet. More than ninety km north of Lytton, on a completely different rail line.

That crew was my father's former crew. He was conductor, before he was bought-out by CN and retired.

I'm so sorry to have made an error like that ... and I have to tell you, my head is still buzzing trying to figure out how to identify the derailment Gordon Rhodes was talking about.

Can you help?

And many, many thanks for your correction.
"if you look at the accident ratio they have to the accident ratio we had—meaning B.C. Rail—it's night and day. It really is."

I haven't seen the statistics on derailments on BC Rail - though we didn't here about two or three derailments per week before the sale/give-away of BC Rail. When it was still being operated by BC Rail, they used equipment and protocols appropriate to the mountainous terrain of British Columbia rather than the rest of Canada east of the Rockies .

I do know that in the early years under CN management the railway was averaging an "incident" every third day month after month after year. These incidents ranged from minor switching yard errors to the derailment that killed Don Faulkner and Thomas Dodd and the one the media conspired to label a minor incident in the Prince George switching yard, but turned out to have been a serious derailment, explosion and fire that could have destroyed a large part of Prince George and did put toxic materials into the Fraser and/or Nechako - which all winds up in the Fraser ultimately. I can still picture the sight of water bombers dropping red re-tardant on the tall flames of the burning train carsl, virtually next to residential neighborhoods, if not actually in them!

Then there was the spill which killed countless fish near Squamish for which the Company was slapped lightly with a small penalty per dead fish, essentially. As I recall their penalty per dead fish was a lot less than I could have bought the same (pre-ingestion of toxic materials) fish for in the supermarket or even right off of the boat. They were not penalized "by the fish" of course but an extrapolation of the fine divided by the number of fish estimated killed is a fairly straight forward calculation that can be easily done, even without a pencil and paper - much less a calculator.
Kootcoot, good post,I personally believe this is the track We should be on.

Re"incident" one of the pages We were directed to, "Just for the record, there's a difference between an incident and an accident. You seem to indicate that there's a very fine line between the two sometimes, but you didn't illustrate with anything specific. Could you perhaps illustrate what would still be regarded as an incident, but is so breathtakingly close to an accident?

Mr. Gordon Rhodes:
There's what happened on the mountain just about two months ago. A boulder came down. It smashed the rail. It broke the rail, shattered ties, and moved the track over. The train came down, with no patrols.

Because they don't have patrols on that mountain, the crew was bringing the train down more slowly. They came upon this broken rail. Rather than throwing the train into emergency, which means you put all the brakes on, but which can risk causing the rail to shift and lead you to end up going all over the place and derailing, the engineman handled the train and brought it to a stop with dynamic breaking. Because there were two units on it that had dynamic breaking, he was able to bring the train to a stop, but not until they went over the broken rail by 24 cars.

They had to separate the train and rebuild the track, and then the train moved on. Since then CN has put patrols on that mountain again. That was never reported to Transport Canada, because it was only an incident.

Another issue is derailments. We're not hearing the whole story on derailments. They're only reporting derailments. Then there are the ones called incidents. An incident is a close call. They're not being reported, and if they are being reported, they certainly aren't taking them and learning anything from them. That's in phase two of that report.

Mr. Gordon Rhodes:
It is definitely one of the most dangerous. We require patrols in front of our trains—and that's another issue I was wanting to bring up here. It's a safety issue, because I found out in talking to Transport Canada after an incident on the mountain that it wasn't a derailment and therefore wasn't reportable as an accident; it came so close, but it wasn't an accident, so they didn't have to tell them about it. It's as close as I would ever want to come.
Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Monday, April 16, 2007,3172&arpicpd=2834251#Para555442

Thanks, all.

Keep those excellent comments coming.
Hello BC Mary,

Here I am in my local library because my Telus Modem/Router died on Saturday night. THREE business days before a new one arrives via Canada Post!

EM has it down pat for the right Link.... all you have to do is select a pharse from Mr. Rhodes testimoney like:

"Transport Canada didn't have anybody in position to have the knowledge to recognize that—or maybe there's just no legislation"

copy it into Google and hit enter.

BC Mary's blog comes up, but so does his testimoney's location too in Ottawa.

That's the beauty of the internet, the only problem for me on the Weekend, other than Telus, was that I had to find this info via looking at Google in French..... I only speak English
There is a link shortening device that can be downloaded from IE 8.
Post a Comment

<< Home