|Railway Safety Act Review not ready yet
|The final report of the Railway Safety Act Review has yet to be released, and it may have the recommendations which will quell the call for a public inquiry into
CN's safety record.
CN has had three derailments in northern B.C. in the past six weeks, including the collision, derailment and fire in Prince George; a ten car derailment in
Quesnel and last week's derailment east of Terrace which saw 29 grain cars off the track.
The railway is federally regulated, and while NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis, the opposition transportation critic says there should be a public inquiry, provincial
Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is not likely to echo that call. Falcon has been overseas and unavailable for comment, but Ministry spokesperson Susan
Williams says in the past, Falcon has made his stance clear. "He is confident the Federal Minister will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure railways
are operating safely."
Prince George - Peace River M.P. Jay Hill says, personally, he would not support a public inquiry. "I don't think a lengthy, expensive public inquiry is the way to
go, at least not until it becomes evident that it is the only route possible." Hill says railways are regulated, and they have safety obligations. "I said, when the
Fairview Terminal opened, that I would hold CN to its commitment. They made a commitment to service, but in my mind they also have a commitment to
ensure their trains don't fall off the tracks."
Speaking at Prince George City Council this week, CN's Senior Vice President of its Western Region, Jim Vena, said the railway's safety record is improving,
that year to date figures show there has been a decline in accidents. According to Vena, there were 374 accidents by this time last year, compared to 312
during the same period in 2007.
During this meeting, Prince George City Councillors told Vena there seemed to be a culture of fear among workers that employees are afraid that if they come
forward with complaints about safety issues their jobs will be in jeopardy. While Vena said CN would have to do a better job of "communicating that we are
open to communication," Prince George - Peace River M.P. Jay Hill says that is where the Union should be stepping in. "The Union not only negotiates fair
wages, they also have the strength to work with the corporation on safety issues."
Source: Opinion 250 News