The Current

Are Canada's railways safe?

CN Rail's Chief Operating Officer says they are committed to running a safe railroad and says they are working hard to reduce incidents such as the derailment and explosion in Gainford, Alberta. With oil and gas increasingly moving by rail, we are asking about the strains and vulnerabilities along the route....
CN Rail's Chief Operating Officer says they are committed to running a safe railroad and says they are working hard to reduce incidents such as the derailment and explosion in Gainford, Alberta. With oil and gas increasingly moving by rail, we are asking about the strains and vulnerabilities along the route.



The safety of Canada's railways is once again being questioned

"I can't believe this ... 1 o'clock in the morning and the train explodes. Houses burnt all to pieces. Nobody's hurt, horses are OK. But the yard is all on fire. Never seen anything like this. And of course it had to explode right in front of the house. Unbelievable. I don't know if we can still live in the house or not". Jeanette Hall, Gainford resident

Jeanette Hall made a video diary as she watched the fires burning across the road from her Gainford, Alberta home. There wasn't much else she could do and she's still waiting to find out if and when she can return.

Early Saturday morning, 13 railway cars carrying oil and propane went off the tracks and the explosion lit the night sky. The fire is still burning, though it is now a controlled burn.

More than one hundred people still can't go home. It's the third derailment involving hazardous materials on CN tracks in the last month.

For Daniel Poulin, the sight was familiar. He is the publisher of MRG, a monthly newspaper  based in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. In July, he witnessed the explosion and fires that killed 47 people and flattened the centre of his home town. Daniel Poulin was in Lac-Mégantic.

This is the third train derailment involving hazardous materials on CN tracks in a month. And with the amount of crude oil being shipped by rail across Canada set to go up dramatically, Keith Stewart worries the number of disasters could increase as well. He is the Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator with Greenpeace Canada. Keith Stewart was in Toronto.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says the federal government will unveil new rail safety regulations this year. Jeff Watson is the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Transport. He was in Ottawa.


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This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott and Lara O'Brien.


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