Canadian National Railway Derailment Near Central City, Iowa

•September 19, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded CN logo oldNine Canadian National Railway cars, including box cars and hopper cars, derailed  September 18 near Ford Road in Central City, Iowa (KWWL). The cars were carrying agricultural and forest products, and were on their way from Cedar Rapids to Manchester.

For more information on CN derailments in the U.S. and Canada, see CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents.

Canadian National Railway Gets First Fine for Not Moving Enough Grain

•September 18, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded gavel and fine imageCanadian National Railway is being fined by the federal government under the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act for failing to move a minimum amount of grain each week (Globe and Mail). The monetary penalty, which has yet to be determined but can be up to $100,000 a week, is the first to be charged under the federal legislation which was passed in the spring to address grain farmers’ complaints that Canada’s two major railways were providing poor service, resulting in significant financial losses to farmers. Grain farmers were also claiming, at the same time, that CN and CP were dedicating too much of their efforts to hauling crude oil and other petroleum products, at the expense of the grain industry.

Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said he was “concerned” CN was not meeting the minimum volume requirements. He said, “Using all means available, our government will continue to defend farmers and all shippers to ensure that our economy is well served by Canada’s rail logistics system.” A Ministry of Transport spokesperson said, “As CN was not able to meet the minimum volume requirements, the Minister has decided to issue administrative monetary penalties to the company.”

In addition to the grain-specific legislation passed this spring, the federal government passed the Fair Rail Freight Service Act last year to help level the playing field for shippers who had been complaining for years that they were more-or-less at the mercy of CN and CP when it came to shipping prices and quality of shipping service. Shippers were concerned, among other issues, about delivery times, standard of freight cars, and recourse when the two rail giants did not live up to their end of service arrangements.

Some shippers and rail analysts have suggested that the quality of service provided by CN has been decreasing since it was privatized in 1995, as the company has been focusing too much on the bottom line and its stock ratings.

Another Canadian National Railway Derailment – The 19th in Alberta in Less Than a Year

•September 17, 2014 • Comments Off

Four Canadian National Railway locomotives and 21 cars derailed in the Mitsue Industrial area about 10km east of Slave Lake, Alberta September 16 (CBC News). Three of the derailed cars were carrying dangerous chemicals: two were carrying sodium chloride and one was carrying sulphuric acid. The Slave Lake Fire Department sent four crews including a dangerous goods team and more than a dozen firefighters to the scene.

This is the third reported Canadian National Railway derailment in or near the Town of Slave Lake within the past four months. The other two were:

1.  June 11, 2014 near Faust about 60km west of Slave Lake when 20 cars fell off the main track. Seventeen cars were full of dangerous goods residue, two were grain hopper cars and one carried lumber.

2.  May 8, 2014 when nine CN cars loaded with wood pulp derailed right in downtown Slave Lake. Some of the cars tipped completely over on their sides and crushed several nearby sheds. Six nearby homes were evacuated.

Yesterday’s derailment is the 19th reported CN derailment in Alberta within the past 11 months. The other 16 include:

1.  September 9, 2014 near Cherhill when eight CN cars filled with gravel fell off the tracks, four of them tipping over and spilling their loads.

2.  August 31, 2014 near Hondo when 15 cars carrying grain derailed, spilling an undisclosed amount of grain.

3.  August 1, 2014 near Lacombe when 16 CN cars carrying grain derailed.

4, 5 & 6.  Mid-July, 2014 in the Edson CN rail yards. One of the derailments occurred July 26 when 2 cars carrying lumber fell off the tracks. There were two other CN derailments in the same yard during the previous few weeks with no details.

7.  July 12, 2014 when 15 cars derailed north of Three Hills. Most of the cars carried general consumer merchandise, while two contained chemicals for household and industrial use.

8.  July 4, 2014 near Whitecourt when six cars flipped over on their sides: three cars carried crude oil and one carried highly volatile methanol. At least one of the tanker cars spilled an undisclosed volume of hazardous product.

9.  June 27, 2014 when 11 grain cars derailed near Chisholm, blocking the main tracks and a railroad crossing for about a day.

10.  May 30, 2014 north of Lac La Biche when about 50,000 litres of molten sulphur spilled from three of seven derailed CN cars. The spill took several days to clean up and CN’s main line was closed for an undisclosed period of time.

11.  March 5, 2014 when two empty grain cars derailed in Beaver County near Edmonton.

12.  January 15, 2014 in Edmonton when three moving CN trains collided. Three locomotives, two tanker cars loaded with dangerous goods and one empty flat car fell off the tracks. One of the locomotives spilled an undisclosed volume of diesel fuel.

13.  December 27, 2013 when seven cars derailed in the Wainwright CN rail yard. Derailed cars were carrying grain and salt.

14.  November 3, 2013 near Peers when 13 CN cars derailed: 12 were loaded with lumber and one carried sulphur dioxide. CN’s main line was shut down while mangled rail cars and spilled broken lumber were cleaned off the tracks.

15.  October 19, 2013 when 13 cars derailed in Gainford, causing massive explosions and fires. Nine of the derailed cars were loaded with propane and four were loaded with crude oil. One of the tanker cars carrying propane exploded and three others caught fire. All 100 Gainford residents plus 25 others living within 2km of the explosions were evacuated for four days. Firefighters were unable to deal with the hot fire and were forced to let it burn itself out, which took four days. The main east-west Trans-Continental rail line through western Canada was shut down for five days. The volume of petroleum product spilled and the extent of environmental and property damages were not disclosed.

16.  October 16, 2013 in Sexsmith when four CN tanker cars loaded with anhydrous ammonia derailed. About 150 homes were evacuated.

For more details on the above accidents and hundreds of additional CN derailments in Canada and the U.S., see CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents. Canadian National Railway intentionally does not report many of its derailments.

Alberta also had the most reports of runaway trains over the last year (see this link). Of 17 runaway trains reported in Canada to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada between July 2013 and June 2014, six occurred in Alberta.

Canadian National Railway Derailment in Michigan

•September 14, 2014 • Comments Off

A Canadian National Railway train derailed about 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning, September 14 in Macomb County, southeastern Michigan, about 20 miles northeast of Detroit (Associated Press). Police said a broken axle caused the accident, but CN provided no further details. Traffic on several major roads was blocked and the track was closed until some time Sunday afternoon.

See CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for information on more CN derailments in the U.S. and Canada.

Canadian National Railway Train Derails and Spills Load Near Edmonton, Alberta

•September 10, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded CN derailment cherhill photo sept 9 2014An eastbound Canadian National Railway train derailed just after noon September 9 near Cherhill, about 100km northwest of Edmonton, Alberta (QMI Agency). Eight cars filled with gravel fell off the tracks and 4 tipped over, spilling their loads on and around the tracks. It is not known how long the main line was shut down to clean up the mess.

CN has had a string of derailments in Alberta during the past few months; see CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for a partial list of these. CN intentionally does not report many of its derailments in Canada and the United States.

Railway Noise and Vibration Negatively Affects Overall Quality of Life

•September 3, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded noise image childAs the shipment of dangerous goods by rail increases, especially crude oil and other petroleum products, residents who live near railways are becoming more concerned about their safety, health, property values and overall quality of life. For example, North Battleford City Council in Saskatchewan, is wrestling with complaints from west side residents regarding the increasing noise and movement of hazardous goods by Canadian National Railway “at all hours of the day and night” (News-Optimist).

One North Battleford resident wrote to City Council, “The piercing horns that blow at over 100 decibels can make you jump out of your skin. The banging and screeching are often so loud that conversations are halted as words are drowned out. People who live half a block from tracks have items rattling on shelves when the trains are shunting…I, along with any other residents of the west side, don’t get a lot of sleep some nights due to the clanging, banging cars, screeching metal, hissing airbrakes and rumbling engines…Buying a home on the west side has always made good financial sense. But that was before the exponential increase in train traffic. Is it fair that people who most likely have the majority of their personal wealth invested in their homes see this wealth eroded through no fault of their own?”

Most cities like North Battleford have noise bylaws that prohibit noises that interfere with the peace and comfort of the community. However, these bylaws do not apply to CN or other railways. Railroaded has received many complaints from residents across Canada similar to those expressed above. Railway noise, particularly train horns or whistles that are blown at road crossings, can often travel several miles, especially on otherwise quiet nights.

It’s high time the federal government, which legislates the manner in which railways operate, address the growing problem of railway noise and vibration, especially at night. The health, safety, property values and overall quality of life for hundreds of thousands of residents in Canada who live near railways are negatively affected by Canada’s antiquated railway legislation.

See this link for more information on the negative impacts of railway noise.

Canadian National Railway Causing Delays to Amtrak Service

•September 2, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded Amtrack logo imageOn August 29, Amtrak filed an amended complaint with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) seeking an investigation of Canadian National Railway for causing unacceptable delays on the Illini/Saluki service that uses the CN-owned line from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois (PR Newswire). According to Amtrak, the action is being taken under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which indicates Amtrak has a statutory preference in the dispatching of intercity passenger trains before freight trains.

Railroaded CN logo oldThe amended complaint is part of an ongoing case initially filed by Amtrak in January 2012 regarding CN’s performance, which has caused a significant decrease in Amtrak’s on-time performance. Amtrak is asking the STB to investigate the causes of delay on the Illini/Saluki service, and to award damages and other relief if CN is found to have violated Amtrak’s right to preference.

Amtrak claims poor on-time performance creates a major disruption for Amtrak customers due to delayed trains and missed connections. It also negatively impacts Amtrak and state-supported services through decreased ridership, lost revenues and higher operating costs.

An online petition was started in February 2013 by Amtrak customers who asked CN Railway to please stop delaying Amtrak passenger trains. The petition reads, “By ending your delay of Amtrak passenger trains, you’ll help make the use of passenger rail in the United States more attractive and help us reduce our carbon emissions and our contribution to climate chaos.” The petition remains active.

 
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