Train derailment in Ontario flares up concerns over rail safety
A train derailment in Ontario has renewed concerns over the transport of dangerous goods through residential neighbourhoods. An estimated 1,200 litres of diesel was spilled in a Toronto neighbourhood when a westbound CP Rail train struck an eastbound train that was changing tracks. The train was also carrying pressurized gas, compressed nitrogen, wet batteries and alcoholic beverages, none of which were spilled.
Although a number of new safety initiatives have been put in place for the rail sector, many communities would just prefer to move the rail lines outside of residential neighbourhoods or even outside of urban areas entirely. However, that comes at a huge cost, which the rail companies are reluctant to pay.
A big part of the problem is that much of Canada was built around the rail lines, which was the primary mode of transportation at the turn of the century. The rail companies maintain they were there first and shouldn't shoulder the entire cost of the relocation.
The town of Lac Mégantic developed a plan to reroute the rail lines after the deadly disaster in 2013, but there was no agreement on who will pay the estimated $150 million cost.
The American Association of Railroads estimates it costs between $1 million and $3 million per mile to build mainline rail, depending on surface conditions.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating this weekend's incident. The exact cause of the derailment is not yet known.