CN railway track

Work has begun to twin this section of track along the Saint John Throughway, near the city's uptown. (Connell Smith/CBC)

Construction of a new railway track is underway in Saint John.

NB Southern Railway is twinning a section of track near Harbour Station, as the industry tries to deal with huge growth in the rail business.

"The new  track is intended to reduce congestion of the movement of rail cars between rail yards located on the east side and west side of the city and to assist with assembling the daily trains that move west or east out of the city," company spokesperson Mary Keith stated in an email.

The company is installing about 3,000 feet of track on a pre-existing track footprint, said Keith.

The previous track was removed after VIA discontinued its service in the mid-1990s.

Train traffic

Some city residents say they would like to see crude tank cars moved to unpopulated areas, rather than have more tracks built in the city. (Connell Smith/CBC)

People near the track say they aren't surprised to learn that the track along the throughway, near Saint John's uptown, is being twinned.

'You just see them in your travels, they're everywhere.'- Mike Griffin, Saint John resident

Mike Griffin of Saint John says since learning of another section of new track to be laid at nearby Tin Can Beach, he has discovered oil tank cars tucked into unlikely places, such as the rail siding at the city's Courtenay Bay potash terminal.

"You just see them in your travels, they're everywhere," said Griffin. "There's so much oil traffic here now that there's no place to store anybody else's cargo."

Keith said the new stretch of track will not be "a storage facility."

Still, Griffin said he would like to see crude tank cars moved to unpopulated areas and suggests they be placed on land owned by Irving Oil near Mispec.

"You know they've got a lot of land out in that area that they could move into," he said. "It might be safer if they moved them out there anyway, just to get them out of the heart of the city."

On Tuesday, oil tank cars were observed parked along the entire length of the existing single lane track off City Road.

Growth in rail business spurs safety committee

Meanwhile, Saint John council will soon be asked to ban train whistles during overnight hours.

Coun. Gerry Lowe says noise from the increasing number of trains is causing stress for people living near rail lines.

"The whistles are being blown from 10 at night until four in the morning," said Lowe.

"I'm going to eventually get a council vote to see if we can eliminate the whistles through the night, right? The complaints in east Saint John are just unbelievable."

On Monday, Saint John council appointed Lowe to represent Saint John on the town of Rothesay's new rail safety committee.

People in Rothesay's Kennebecasis Park are concerned that the only entrance to their neighbourhood is on a city-owned street, which is bisected by a busy rail line.

There are concerns the community would be cut off if a train were to stall or derail.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story identified the track expansion as being a CN Rail project. CBC apologizes for the error.
    Jan 22, 2014 12:27 PM AT