Published: August 11, 2007
Source: Globe & Mail - GEOFF NIXON
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Five members of an independent panel heard
deputations on issues of rail safety from
stakeholders and members of the public in
Toronto yesterday, as part of an ongoing review
of the Railway Safety Act.
Among the speakers were Anne Fairfield and Donna
Spicer, the two sisters of Donald Faulkner - a
British Columbia train engineer with more than
40 years of railway experience who was killed in
a derailment near Lillooet, B.C., in June of
The sisters said they wished to see a change in
the way railways looked at safety and that the
industry needed to ask its front-line workers
about the kinds of risks they face.
"We don't need [any more] chopped-off legs and
men not able to work in the railway business any
more," Ms. Fairfield said.
In the past six months alone, there have been
several serious incidents that have sparked
renewed fears about railway safety in Canada:
Aug. 4, 2007: Two trains collided in Prince
George, B.C. - one full of gasoline, the other
lumber - which led to a major fire.
April 23, 2007: CP Rail train engineer Lonnie
Plasko, 51, was killed in a train derailment in
March 30, 2007: A train derailment in Englehart,
Ont., poured 150,000 litres of sulphuric acid
into the Blanche River.
March 11, 2007: A Via Rail passenger train
collided with a car at a train crossing near
Guelph, Ont., killing nine-year-old Srinayana
Feb. 28, 2007: Hydrochloric acid spilled from a
CP Rail train that went off-track near British
Columbia's Kicking Horse Canyon.
Rail Safety Act review spokesperson Gabriela
Klimes said members of the public can continue
to voice their concerns about rail safety to the
panel through their official Transport Canada
website until the end of the month.
The act itself came into effect in 1989 -
replacing the existing Railway Act - but has not
been updated since 1999.
The Toronto meeting took place only two days
after Canada's Transportation Safety Board
announced it was launching a full investigation
into a Prince George, B.C., train derailment
that caused a major fire last weekend.
In addition to the Toronto meeting, the panel
has visited 13 other cities across Canada and
will wrap up its face-to-face public
consultations with a final public meeting in
Ottawa Aug. 21.
Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon
announced the review of the act last December.
The panel is expected to report back on its
findings by the end of the fall.
Panel chair Doug Lewis said before the meeting
that the panel had seen evidence of "an awful
lot being done ... on the issue of railway
safety" during its travels across Canada, but
cautioned that the panel's mandate had its
"We've stayed away from public security issues,
union management issues and customer issues,"
Mr. Lewis said.
The Toronto deputations touched on a wide range
of topics from the maintenance of Canada's
national railways, to the ways railway companies
are managing employee concerns about rail
safety, to the environmental impact of train