Some municipalities in Cape Breton are worried about the safety of local rail lines and are asking for government intervention after exploration by a structural engineer uncovered some problems.

Many people started questioning the safety of their local rail lines following the rail disaster last year in Quebec.

The state of rail lines, and in particular rail bridges, has some worried following a structural engineer’s inspection. 

“The information and pictures we looked at — there's tremendous erosion of cement and steel that looks to me to be, I don't want to use the word dangerous, but could be dangerous. And by saying that, somebody is responsible and that’s [Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway],” said Port Hawkesbury Mayor Billy Joe MacLean.

The inspection was done by Joe Janega, a structural engineer who is also a local councillor. 


The Strait Area Mayors and Wardens Committee is asking for a full independent inspection of the Cape Breton rail line and the Seal Island Bridge. (CBC)

The president of the company that owns the rail lines in Cape Breton says they're safe.

Mario Brault, president of Genesee and Wyoming Inc., said the deterioration discovered by a local structural engineer is cosmetic. 

Laura Thompson, 85, lives a few hundred metres from the Cape Breton rail line. She said she’s worried about the condition of the rail line that runs near her house.

“There's a train goes through sometime shortly before midnight and it woke me up and I was thinking, ‘You know, should I get up or stay?’ It makes you uneasy,” she said.

MacLean wants something done so people like Thompson won't have to worry.

“We're not trying to witch hunt the Cape Breton railway. We just feel that they could tell us everything's fine but I would feel much better if their was a professional inspection done by the federal government. Then we'd have that report and we'd have more confidence that everything is fine,” he said.

The Strait Area Mayors and Wardens Committee has now written the federal and provincial ministers of transportation.

It's asking for a full independent inspection of the Cape Breton rail line and the Seal Island Bridge.

Brault said it's not up to municipalities to call for a review.

He said the company hires an independent engineer to check the lines annually and Transport Canada performs unannounced inspections.