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Grassroots movement targets railways (October 01, 2001)

MILTON, Ont. -- Residents Affected by Intermodal Lines (RAIL) has sprung up here and it's cautioning Ontarians abou...

MILTON, Ont. — Residents Affected by Intermodal Lines (RAIL) has sprung up here and it’s cautioning Ontarians about taxpayer money going to support rail’s efforts to open more intermodal facilities.

“RAIL appreciates the value of intermodal service when placed in an appropriate location, but be careful what you ask for, you just might get it”, says RAIL member Sandra Campbell.

RAIL originally formed by a group of residents having serious concerns about the resulting effects from Canadian National Rail’s proposed intermodal project in Milton.

Not only will residents surrounding the proposed area forever suffer the long-term negative impacts of this proposed development, says the fledgling lobby group, but all communities within the Regional Municipality of Halton will be victimized by its adverse impact.

Should 2 billion dollars of taxpayer money be spent on new intermodal terminals many more communities may go through the same procedure we are now experiencing, the group adds.

“The railways have been telling the people that intermodal facilities are the safe way to relieve congestion and benefit air quality. However, when RAIL researched these issues we found that the railways were not telling the whole story regarding their environmental and safety record,” says Sandra Campbell.

She points to a Transportation Safety Board (TSB) issued a report (R97H0008) warning of the safety deficiencies within Canadian Pacific Railways intermodal operations. The TSB report stated “CPR car inspectors were often faced with inspecting the same deficiencies on the same train, day after day because of the relatively high number of missing or broken parts on the Element (entire train body); the lack of availability of replacement parts.”

“Because some CPR car inspectors did not know which parts of the Element were safety critical, they did not know when to “stop” the train on the basis of a particular part being non-functional… More importantly, the lack of clearly defined criteria regarding whether the train was safe to depart posed a daily potential threat to the safe operation of the train,” reads the report.

Operator fatigue is another issue RAIL says is a critical problem. In Canada, railway workers can work up to 18 hours a day. A study funded by the major freight railways, CANALERT, found 92 per cent of locomotive engineers admitted to falling asleep while in charge of a moving train. Currently the railway industry is lobbying the federal government for changes to the Hours-of-Service.

“By law the railways are allowed to conduct these negotiations out of public scrutiny and deny anyone who does not own a railway the right to comment on proposed changes,” complains RAIL.

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