Edmonton

Edmonton area needs new rail line for dangerous goods, councillor says

A weekend derailment has a city councillor calling for a plan to move dangerous goods shipments to a new rail line that would circumvent the city.
A CN train derailed just before 5 a.m. on Sunday on the overpass above 97 street. (CBC)

A weekend derailment has a city councillor calling for a plan to move dangerous goods shipments to a new rail line that would circumvent Edmonton.

No one was injured Sunday when eight empty cars from a Canadian National Railway freight train derailed on an overpass near 97th Street and Yellowhead Trail.

Ward 4 Coun. Ed Gibbons said it's fortunate that nothing was inside the cars. He worries the outcome could have been potentially worse had they been tankers carrying dangerous goods.

"It just takes one tanker," Gibbons said Monday. "You've got propane, gas and fuel, and you do fear them exploding." 

Gibbons is pushing for a new rail line that would divert dangerous goods and other rail freight around the city rather than through it.

"We need to build something outside city corridors that rail could move on and move quicker," Gibbons said.

The line, similar in style to a ring road, would be built in the counties of Sturgeon, Strathcona, Leduc and Parkland. It would be north of Redwater, south of Leduc, west of Duffield and east of Bruderheim.

Gibbons has pitched the plan to provincial politicians, federal and to CN Rail, but it's currently just a proposal by the Capital Region Board, which includes Edmonton and 23 surrounding municipalities.

Gibbons believes it's time to give the plan another look.

"We're always envisioning what could go wrong and making sure we're ahead of it for the next 30 years," he said.

Possible future rail alignment shown in light green. (Ed Gibbons)

Ken Smuda was sleeping on Sunday morning when he was woken by a loud crash that was followed by the sounds of emergency vehicles near his home close to Yellowhead Trail & 97th Street.

Like Gibbons, he also worries about what could have happened if one of the rail cars had the potential to explode.

"I have my daughter and my granddaughter living with me and that concerns me," said Smuda. "I don't want them getting hurt by anything that could happen here. We were fortunate that it was just several cars that went off the track."

Ken Smuda plays with his grand daughter on the lawn of their home across from a line of trains. (CBC)

Smuda supports the councillor's proposed dangerous goods route around the city. 

"We have a moratorium in place for dangerous goods transported by truck," Smuda said. "There's routes that they can't travel because of residential concerns. Why not the rail line?"

But Gregg Marko, who also lives near the same rail line, doesn't worry about trains and the dangerous goods they move.

"It's the cost of doing business," Marko said. "Along the highway tanker trucks are hauling gasoline. I think it's ridiculous if you can't haul dangerous goods on a train."

The cause of the derailment on Sunday is still under investigation.

@Travismcewancbc

​Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

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