Tuesday, February 10, 2015

This Is So Cool - And Then It's So Not

Watch this CN locomotive utterly demolish snowbanks blocking the tracks near Salisbury, New Brunswick.



The first minute is awesome and then reality sets in.  The train is hauling oil tank cars that look an awful lot like the tanks that brought so much carnage to the people of Lac Megantic on a July night in 2012.

According to the report in Mother Jones this train, like the Lac Megantic train, is also heading for St. John, site of the Irving Oil Refinery.  Which begs the question, is it really a good idea to be hauling this inarguably volatile cargo along tracks buried in snow and ice?

A 10-year US Department of Transportation analysis of weather-related train accidents in America, from 1995 to 2005, found that the accidents related to snow and ice, when they did occur, often resulted in dangerous derailments. "During the winter months of December through March, the highest accident numbers arose from preexisting snow and ice conditions such as buildups that cause malfunctioning switches and derailments," the report found.

After the Lac-M├ęgantic disaster, both the United States and Canada agreed to get rid of the older and more dangerous versions of the tanker involved in that tragedy, the "DOT-111." (We covered the cons of this tanker extensively last May.) In mid-January, Canada announced it would take the tankers off the network years sooner than the United States will, putting the two countries at odds over increased safety measures on the deeply integrated system.

7 comments:

Bruce said...

No, this is most certainly NOT cool! As a former freight Conductor, it is very easy for packed snow and ice to get into the flangeway (at road crossings) or elsewhere and DERAIL the train. Were it not for 'efficiencies' and crew cut-backs and no overtime, a plough extra would've been called to clear the tracks BEFORE running a train full of special dangerous commodities.

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for that insight, Bruce. Most of us probably think of trains as just a pleasurable way to travel. Now that you raise it, I do recall seeing rail ploughs clearing tracks but I'm pretty sure that was years ago. It sounds like we've let rail safety slide. I know I had a lot of trouble with how the engineer handled the Lac Megantic train - applying some brakes but not nearly enough.

Toby said...

As with every other deregulated industry, governments are allowing this.

WILLY said...

MoS

You've become the new Simon on Progs, you own the most read :)

Anonymous said...

This is the same kind of winter in 1963 when my mom and I were hit by a train. Only the road and track had been plowed and only the smoke stack could be seen when my mother was about to cross the track. She turn the car to the right to hit the snow bank and the car slid up against the track. It hit us and threw us 125 feet up the track on the opposit side. My mom had to be cut out of the car and we both spent six months in hospital. An act of God incident prevailed.. Today I am now paying for all the injuries I suffered including 3 back injuries. Did CNR care? Nope ..not one iotta. Anyong

The Mound of Sound said...

I dunno, Willy, is that a good thing? They say matches sometimes burn brightest just before they burn out.. or some shit like that.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anyong. That was a gripping account. Your survival seems to have been against the odds. Yours are the sort of injuries that are with you to the end.