From ultrasonic rail flaw detections to investing more than $1 billion in track infrastructure this year, CN’s message to Brandon City Council last night was that safety is of the utmost importance.
A team of five CN Rail representatives attended the meeting Monday night, including Warren Chandler, CN’s senior manager for public and government affairs.
“The first message we wanted to make sure the municipality knew was that we’re here to work with them and we’re here to be an active part of the community,” Chandler said. “We want to make sure they’re aware of our offer to work with their emergency responders, to ensure that they’re trained, that they have accurate information, that they have a close relationship with CN.”
Also in attendance was CN’s dangerous goods officer for the Prairie region, the Brandon train master, CN police inspector and a public affairs official.
In his presentation, Chandler touched on the Lac-Mégantic disaster, which killed 47 people and ravaged the Quebec town. The tragedy occurred in July when a Montreal, Main and Atlantic Railway train derailed.
“What happened in Lac-Mégantic won’t be known until it’s thoroughly investigated,” Chandler said. “What we are here to tell you is that what happened there impacts us, and because of that we’re out engaging with municipalities, we’re out engaging with emergency responders … to let them know what does CN do?”
Chandler said CN takes a lot of voluntary measures “to prevent the type of incident that occurred in Lac-Mégantic.”
The company has environmental officers, dangerous goods officers and programs across the network to ensure safety standards are met.
“CN’s capital plan for 2013 is $2 billion, and of that, $1.1 billion is being invested right into our hard infrastructure, so our track, our track geometry … and that’s to make efficiencies in the track, but also to improve the fluidity and the safety of that network,” Chandler said.
The company also uses test cars that use ultrasonic testing to find any flaws in the track. CN tested more than 235,000 miles of track in 2012. It expects to test 220,000 miles in 2013.
CN’s new, self-propelled track geometry car with state-of-the-art electronics continues to help meet increased testing goals.
Chandler said the railway’s dangerous goods officer has met with Brandon’s director of emergency management.
“They have an open line of communication,” he said.
While Chandler wouldn’t get into the details of exactly which dangerous goods pass through Brandon, he said the company supplies a list of the goods to certified emergency responders, “given that the use of that is not disseminated.”
“The information on the type of commodities that move through a community are given to the right emergency responders so that they can be prepared,” he said. “If there’s an emergency that does occur, the information can be relayed to the fire chief.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 17, 2013