The Mayor of Nipigon says there is growing concern about rail safety in his town and many people want changes to how the railway company uses the tracks.

The Canadian Pacific’s tracks run through the heart of Nipigon, Richard Harvey said, and bisect the town’s downtown.

The town has a long history of being a railway hub, but in the wake of the Lac Mégantic rail disaster in Quebec, Harvey said he is hearing  an increasing level of concern from residents about personal safety.

"Every train that goes across Canada on the CPR goes right through the middle of Nipigon," he said. "We've done table-top exercises to look at that exact scenario. What would we do if there was an issue with a tank that was spilling? The reality is the town theoretically gets cut right in half if there is a problem." 

Harvey noted there are "evacuation procedures that are set up … [and] emergency measures in place and ready to go if there ever is an emergency."

Work trains cause complaints

CP spokesperson Ed Greenberg said the company is focused on safety and is prepared to work with Nipigon.

"CP values the relationship we have with the communities we have along our network, like Nipigon," he said. "And our railway will continue to work directly with the mayor and officials to discuss rail related matters."

Harvey said council has instructed the town’s CAO to start discussing with CP ways to make the railways safer for Nipigon and its residents.

Harvey noted that fuel cars typically don’t stop and spend days in town, however, "one of the problems we have is the work trains — the chain gang trains — stop in the middle of town," he said. "[It] causes a lot of complaints because the trains are idling there. They might be in a residential area."