NDP candidate Judith Wilson is calling a decision to increase the number of railcars in trains running between Squamish and Lillooet “at best premature, and at worst potentially dangerous.”
Two days after federal Transport Minister Jean Lapierre eased restrictions on CN Rail trains operating between Squamish and Clinton, and a day after another CN train derailment, Wilson said in a release Friday: “Allowing longer CN trains north of Squamish is outrageous.”
“The number of allowable cars was cut back just one week ago, and the public has seen no reason for that to change,” the NDP candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country continued. “It looks like the government world rather weaken public safety regulations than enforce them. That just doesn’t make good sense.”
Thirteen empty CN railcars went off the tracks near Fort St. James Thursday, the 12 th accident of the year on the former B.C. Rail line. CN has had several derailments on the section of track between Squamish and Lillooet this year, including an August accident that dumped caustic sodium hydroxide in the Cheakamus River and caused a massive fish kill.
Last week, in response to concerns about the CN derailments, Lapierre announced that trains between Squamish and Clinton would be restricted to 80 cars. But this week that order was revised to allow 99-car trains, at the request of CN. The 99-car trains must now have additional locomotives distributed along the length of the train.
“Area residents are asking why the government is weakening their own regulations,” Wilson said in the release. “The onus should be on CN to prove they can run an 80-car train through the Cheakamus Canyon without a derailment before allowing longer trains. To do anything else places Cheakamus salmon at additional risk.
“The Liberals have cut safety regulations, while the Conservative candidate here is promising nothing more than to help write a petition.” Wilson added.