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Ottawa considering moving rail yard to safer location, 5 years after Lac-Mégantic tragedy

The railyard in Nantes, Que., where a runaway train started careening toward Lac-Mégantic in 2013, killing 47 people and destroying the downtown core, could be moved to another location.

2013 runaway train was parked in Nantes before deadly explosion

The MMA locomotive that led the train that crashed in Lac-Mégantic is pictured going through Nantes, Que. on June 7, 2010. (Andre St-Amant / CP)

The rail yard that sits uphill from the town of Lac-Mégantic, Que., where a train was left unattended in 2013 before it rolled down a hill and exploded in the downtown core, might be moved to a new location.

Radio-Canada has learned the federal government is considering displacing the Nantes rail yard to the industrial park in Lac-Mégantic.

There have been repeated calls from citizens and local politicians to move the rail yard and build a bypass away from the downtown core.

Five years after the disaster that killed 47 people, trains laden with dangerous goods are still parked in Nantes, at the top of a steep hill.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau told Radio-Canada that, for the first time, there are talks to move the triage centre.

"We heard their demands," Garneau said.

But to move the rail yard, Ottawa must work with the company that owns the tracks, Central Maine and Quebec Railway.

"We can't just force a company to do this, but we can change the safety rules around stationary trains," said Garneau.

"I've asked my team to check if it is possible."

A report by the Transportation Safety Board in June also indicated the number of runaway trains has increased since the 2013 tragedy.

The federal and provincial governments announced in May a bypass would be built around the town of Lac-Mégantic, Que. (Julia Page/CBC)

Both the province and the federal government confirmed in May 2018 they would finance the $133-million project to build a new track bypassing the community.

Construction of the bypass should begin in 2020, while preliminary work will get started in the new year, Garneau said.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada

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