NRRA focuses its attention on CP rail safety concerns
Like many communities across Canada, North Rosedale has shared its space with a railway line for over a century. The CP tracks along North Rosedale’s northern boundary in fact predated the residential and commercial area that runs adjacent. Despite owning a widespread network of tracks across North America, surprisingly the only CP track connecting Canada east-to-west is the line traversing North Rosedale, and there is no GTA alternative for this company when it comes to moving goods such as crude oil in tank cars to Eastern Canadian refineries and export markets. As a result of recent derailment catastrophes involving light crude oil, the NRRA is now much more focused on understanding safety-related details of CP’s freight traffic.
There are 92,000 rail tank cars used for transporting flammable goods across North America. Approximately 75% of these cars are of the old DOT 111 type that blew up in Lac Megantic, Quebec killing 47 people. It is now acknowledged that DOT 111 cars rupture too easily in derailment scenarios, although their use continues to be grandfathered under US and Canada transport rules. There are limitations as to how quickly these cars can be replaced or retrofitted, partly due to manufacturing capacity and partly due to the fragmented ownership of the cars, which are typically leased by the large railway companies and their customers, rather than being owned outright. In recent weeks, CN, CP and Irving Oil all made announcements regarding the phase-out of the DOT 111 tank cars they own, but this represents only a small fraction of the tank cars that traverse the GTA on a daily basis. Further action, particularly at the federal level, is clearly needed.
In addition to a public outcry to the governments of Canada and the USA to disallow DOT 111 tankers from flammable goods carriage within 5 years, there is a desperate need particularly in Canada for a national rail strategy that includes safety and infrastructure co-investment alongside private sector players like CP. Given the proximity of the CP tracks to our neighbourhood, the NRRA has become involved in coordinated local advocacy to push for urgent changes in Canada’s rail safety regime. We will keep residents informed of important developments regarding this issue through our website and our bi-annual newsletter.