CN slows down oil trains through northern Ontario

CN has ordered its trains pulling oil tankers through northern Ontario to slow down, following the fiery crash near Gogama earlier this month.

The federal government asked for a plan on improving safety, the company says

An aerial eastward view on March 7 of a CN train derailment site near Gogama. Here a few submerged tank cars can be seen. (Transportation Safety Board)

CN has ordered its trains pulling oil tankers through northern Ontario to slow down, following the fiery crash near Gogama earlier this month. 

A few days after the latest derailment and oil spill, the federal government asked CN for a plan on improving safety, the company said.

CN then put speed restrictions on trains carrying more than 20 cars of flammable liquids and increased track inspections. The change applies only to the tracks between Capreol and the Manitoba border and lasts for 60 days.

A Transportation Safety Board investigator stands beside a damaged tank car near Gogama in March 2015. (TSB)

The railway did not say when that began, or what the new speed limit is. It did not answer any other clarifying questions from CBC News about the new order.

However, the union that represents CN engineers has provided some details.

Oil trains now have to slow down to 56 km/h after Capreol, said Randy Caldwell, the regional chairman for the Teamsters union.

The speed limit used to be 64 km/h, and according to the transportation safety board, the train that derailed earlier this month was going 61 km/h.

Not enough staff

Caldwell said this decision by CN does suggest that the track in northern Ontario is in especially bad shape.

"Our primary concern is the safety of our membership and we're just happy to know that CN is addressing it."

The reduction in speed has led to staffing shortages for CN because it now takes two crews to get a train from Sudbury to Hornepayne, Caldwell said.

"We are short people for sure in Hornepayne right now. We've just advertised for engineers to go there from around the district. Actually have forced a few to go there."

Transport Canada was contacted for this story, but directed questions to CN Rail.


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