Letters to the Editor

Letter: Train derailment destruction not oil’s fault

To the editor:

Re: Great loss in Quebec to train accident.

Everyone blames the oil. We should not ship oil by train.

It is not the oil. Rail lines ship a lot more hazardous material than just oil. The train could have been filled with gravel or lumber, chemicals, ammunition for Afghanistan (oh, I forgot, we are coming home from that) etc., and there would still have been a lot of trouble at the crash but no fire—maybe.

When operating a 73-car+ oil train, the operator and the owner are responsible for the “safe” parking of this line of fuel, especially when a sloped rail line is to either end of the train.

There again, it is not the oil’s fault, it is the operators.

Then ask, why is such a line of oil cars left unattended if our national government is so afraid of terrorist? If it is so easy to let this train of oil slip loose and run into town for a large destruction of people and assets, should more emphasis not be put on its ‘safe parking,’ ie: someone responsible for its safe parking or an attendant for overnight. There used to be cabooses on all trains, now we just have a little smart box taped to the end car. I assume the little smart box could not stop the train or ask for help or alert the trouble to head office?

In driver training for automobiles, we are taught to park our cars with the wheels turned in the correct direction for parking on a hill or slope and to use our parking brake.

Many companies want fewer and fewer workers but still want safe operations and make more money. What is this accident not going to cost the operating company—lawyers, suits and compensation.

Please do not forget the many lost lives and the families and friends left behind with the memories.

In our Rocky Mountains there are long freight trains going both ways every 20 minutes and they have to park many times to allow for hill climbing and passing trains but these don’t seem to have the same problems. Attention to detail and routine operation could be the answer, along with training of staff who are qualified to do the work.

I believe this operating company and others can and should do better in the future. Let us hope something good comes from this ie: regulations regards parking, attendants etc.

Of course, we could all change our ways and not use any oil products again—ever—no matter if the oil comes by pipe, boat or train. Yes, we could go back to the days of horse and buggy. Do I hear any takers? It would be a simpler life but then there could be a runaway horse and buggy because someone forgot to tie the horse up or set the park brake.

Jorgen Hansen,

Kelowna

 

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