Slave Lake trains running again after derailment

One train has already gone through the town at reduced speeds and will be the only one on Friday. Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman says CN officials assured him on Friday that the track is safe.
A train derailed in Slave Lake Thursday afternoon, just off Main Street. (Supplied via Twitter (Leslie Risebrough))

Almost two days after nine box cars derailed in Slave Lake, Alta., trains were back on track and rolling through town.

The nine cars derailed on Thursday afternoon around 4:15 p.m. The train had 74 cars filled with flammable or toxic material — but the nine cars that derailed were carrying pulp.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman. “Hearing very early on that there were no injuries was a big sigh of relief, followed by another big sigh of relief when we understood it was only pulp being carried in those box cars.”

CN Rail worked all night fixing the 240-feet of track damaged in the derailment. Only three of the nine cars that derailed remained on the scene early Friday.

Engineers and an inspection team were on site when a train passed slowly through the previously damaged spot on the line.

At first, Warman said the fact that a train was passing through made him nervous.

“I can’t stress how uneasy it makes us that a train is going through this quickly,” he said. After inspecting the track himself, Warman said he was relieved, but understands it may take longer for the residence nearby to feel the same.

Nadia Fraser witnessed the train derail.

“I was afraid it might explode,” she said. “Maybe [the train line should] go around town, instead of right through it.”

Five families were forced to leave because of the derailment on Thursday, but were allowed to return to their homes on Friday. Warman says CN will cover their costs and pay for any damages to their property.

A full report from CN on the cause of the incident is expected in a few days.

“Once we have that information we’ll have to have some good pointed questions for CN and if anything needs to be done to make it more safe and limit the liability of this happening again in the future,” said Warman.

The derailment comes six months after residents in Slave Lake met with CN officials to discuss concerns they had over the line’s safety in the wake of derailments in Gainford and Peers, Alta.