New Brunswick

Saint John derailment site had just passed track inspection

NB Southern Railway says a section of track that failed in east Saint John on Monday, resulting in a derailment, had just passed a company inspection a couple of weeks ago.

Bayside Drive crossing showed 'no issues' on Aug. 1, says NB Southern Railway

Concerns over train derailments in the port city 2:13

NB Southern Railway says a section of track that failed in east Saint John on Monday, resulting in a derailment, had just passed a company inspection a couple of weeks ago.

Four cars of a train carrying gypsum rock across Bayside Drive to the nearby Atlantic Wallboard plant went off the tracks at around 3:30 p.m., blocking traffic.

The crossing and rail spur into Atlantic Wallboard are inspected at least monthly and were last tested on Aug. 1, said NB Southern spokeswoman Mary Keith.

Four cars carrying gypsum rock derailed on Bayside Drive in Saint John on Monday afternoon. (NB Southern Railway)
"At that time there were no issues," she said in an emailed statement to CBC News.

Keith had initially expected the repair to be complete and normal operations to resume by midnight, but as of Tuesday, around 6 p.m., traffic was still reduced to two lanes from four.

"As a precautionary measure, we decided last night to replace the entire length of rail at the crossing (4 lanes) and lay new asphalt," said Keith.

The new estimated completion time is 8 p.m., she said.

Rail safety concerns

According to Canada's Transportation Safety Board, there have been 50 such non-main-track derailments in New Brunswick since 2010, and four main-track derailments where the trains were likely moving much faster.

The Saint John derailment was on a short branch line leading to the Atlantic Wallboard plant. The company says the train was moving at 16 km/h. All four cars remained upright and no one was injured.

But the derailment should be taken very seriously, says the city's former mayor, Ivan Court.

When you have an oil refinery and you have a train derailment just across from it, I mean, you have to be concerned.- Ivan Court, former mayor

"When you have an oil refinery and you have a train derailment just across from it, I mean, you have to be concerned," he said.

Court is worried about the increased volume of oil tank cars seen on city tracks in the past five years. The tank cars are also managed by NB Southern Railway.

"Let's make sure we have adequate manpower on the trains," said Court. "Let's make sure they're doing their maintenance, doing that, and let's slow down those trains a little bit."

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