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July 20, 2007
 
Five car CN derailment at Grande Prairie - No injuries to CAW crew
Wednesday morning (July 18), a section of track on CN’s rail line running through
the City of Grande Prairie, Alberta gave way and caused five box cars to derail.  The
accident occurred about two blocks east of the downtown area.  The train crew,
members of CAW Local 4001/National Council 4000, were not injured.

The accident happened in the same location where a derailment occurred last year
on April 19, 2006, when an empty flat bed car jumped the tracks and hit a parked
vehicle and narrowly missed a building in Junction Point, a small professional
centre with medical offices, oil company offices and law firms.  This accident
occurred when the rail line was owned and operated by Savage Alberta Railway, a
shortline railway that sold the line back to Canada’s largest railway, CN, on
December 1, 2006.  

The July 18th accident saw a box car smash into a concrete barrier that surrounds
the parking lot of the Junction Point office complex.  There was no damage to any
parked vehicles in the parking lot.

Local Union Representatives from CAW Local 4001 believe that the derailment was
caused by poor track condition in that area, the exact same area where last years
derailment occurred.  The track curves in the area where both accidents occurred.  
The track condition may have worsened given the severe storm the night previous,
where Grande Prairie was hit with heavy winds and rain that caused flash flooding in
several parts of the city.
Crews clean up following an early morning derailment of a CN train just east of
Downtown Grande Prairie.  Local CAW representatives suspect poor track condition
as the cause of the accident.  No injuries resulted.  [Photo: Greg Locke]   

The Grande Prairie Holiday Inn had sent letters to all guests to be ready to evacuate the hotel on a moment’s notice, as the entire underground parking was
flooded and the elevator shaft had about 10 feet of water in it.  There was damage caused to numerous roofs and buildings, downed power lines, flooded
streets and basements.

Kelli Svendsen, a spokesperson from CN, refused to speculate on whether the storm damaged the line, saying only that an investigation is underway.  She
also said that CN is uncertain if the incident of last April is related.

CAW National Council 4000 Regional Representative Barry Kennedy has said that CN is in the process of upgrading several hundred kilometers of track on
the former Savage lines between Grande Prairie and Swan Landing (between Jasper and Hinton, AB) and areas north of Grande Prairie.  The Company has
placed numerous slow orders on the track that has made it difficult to maintain crew assignments and train schedules.  The CAW has held several meetings
with CN to minimize the adverse affects this has had on their membership as well as the customers along these lines.     

Related:

April 24, 2006 - SAR derailment in Grande Prairie damages cars in track-side parking lot
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