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Aldershot GO trains still down
Published: February 20, 2008
Source: Toronto Star - Jeffrey Todd Staff Reporter
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  A CN freight-train derailment at King Rd. in Burlington early yesterday halted GO and VIA train service. Cleanup crews arrived shortly after the incident and were still working last night.

GO Train riders can expect diminished morning service as CN crews labour through the night trying to clear the last of a train derailment at Burlington.

Carina Machado, a supervisor with GO Transit, said there are no early morning trains from Aldershot to Union Station. A shuttle bus is scheduled to run between Aldershot and Hamilton in its place.

“We did this Tuesday morning and it went well,” Machado said. “The derailment just needs to be completely repaired.” Regular morning service is expected from Hamilton and Burlington, she added.

Go Trains originating from Aldershot should be also be running on a typical schedule by late morning.

Frank Binder, CV regional manager, said while crews continue to work 24 hours a day to clear the debris left after Monday’s derailment, the third track remains covered.

Damage to the rail itself has also put the repair workers behind.

“Nothing has changed,” he said. “Right now tracks one and two are open and we are waiting on number three. We’re continuing through the night.”

A broken wheel on a freight train is believed to have caused 19 cars and tankers to fly off the tracks about 1 a.m. Monday, turning the snow-covered countryside into a scrap yard.

The crash occurred just east of the Aldershot GO station, near the King Rd. rail crossing, when some cars on an eastbound freight - with three locomotives and 139 rail cars - separated and went off the track.

Derailed cars lay on their sides yesterday, strewn across the tracks like toys. One car's load of lumber spilled out; another was filled with millions of plastic pellets. None of the cars contained chemicals, police said, although three of the tankers had held sulphuric acid, and two others had been used to transport sodium hydroxide.

Three of the cars crashed into the Kaverit Cranes & Service building, 15 to 30 metres away.

"They completely knocked out our back-end wall," said Ida Durling, a service supervisor at the crane manufacturing and servicing company. When she got a call about the derailment yesterday morning, she thought it was a bad joke.

"We have been joking for a while since we're so close to the tracks, that a car might fly into the building one day ... but I never thought it would actually happen."

The impact affected one of the building's structural beams, causing cracks in the structure. Firefighters were not letting people into that part of the building, she said.

"It looked like the roof could have caved in if there was any more movement of these cars."

When she saw the extent of the damage, she said her first reaction was an emotional one. "I am so glad that it was Family Day and no one was working," she said. "Otherwise, there could have been fatalities."

John Kolesar of Burlington, on his way home from his girlfriend's house early Monday, had just pulled up to the train crossing when the derailment occurred.

"I heard a loud bang, and I saw one car veer off," he said. "It was dark but I could see the cars had fallen over on the tracks," said Kolesar, who called police.

Most of Monday was spent bringing in heavy equipment capable of lifting the derailed cars, so they could be placed back on the tracks, said Binder. Bulldozers cleared some of the damage so workers could get to the scene.

As CN workers lifted away the derailed cars, Binder said, they were also trying to determine the extent of the damage to the track itself.

Catherine Kaloutsky, a VIA Rail spokesperson, said thousands of travellers and dozens of trains were affected by the derailment. "It's had a major impact," she said.

The crash shut down GO, VIA, and CN services yesterday past Burlington; trains to Hamilton and London were either re-routed or replaced by buses throughout the day.

Last March, a CN freight train derailment in Pickering disrupted VIA in the Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa corridor and commuter rail service in the Toronto area.

With files from Tess Kalinowski and Noor Javed


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