Rail transportation is raising a number of concerns for residents in the CDN-NDG borough since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.
Some citizens are asking officials to find solutions, as traffic on the two railway crossings in the borough is bound to increase over the next few years.
A Côte-des-Neiges resident pointed out that due to the tragedy there will be more trains from Western Canada passing through Montreal going to east end refineries - dangerous tankers carrying crude oil and hazardous materials.
The citizen had suggestions of his own to improve rail transport safety, like addressing the issues with the federal Transport Minister. “Crude oil and hazardous materials should not travel on the same train and should be positioned at the back of the train,” he said. “Also, tankers carrying hazardous materials should be labeled by the product supplier.” He also suggested a need to be able to quickly access precise information about the tankers’ contents for those first on the scene in case of an accident.
Another concerned Côte-des-Neiges resident enquired about emergency plans in case of a train accident involving hazardous materials on tracks going through the residential area in the Darlington district along Jean-Talon West.
Mayor Lionel Perez replied that “it’s an issue that’s going to be resolved first and foremost by the federal government changing the regulations requiring the rail companies to in effect notify the different cities as to the content of their tankers as well as to their schedule.”
He pointed out that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is calling for change and working through the city and the agglomerated cities with the government, requiring rail companies to inform them as to the contents of tankers and scheduling.
“This will enable our security teams to provide proper protocols in case there is some kind of accident and be able to deal with it properly and effectively,” said Perez. “We can tell from our discussions with CP to date that they are going to be providing some kind of information in early September. With CN to date we are not as far ahead as we would like to be, as we are with CP.”
Answering a question about the train tracks near the community to be developed in Blue Bonnets, Snowdon councilor Marvin Rotrand said that railroads should be treated as dangerous, and since the Office de consultation publique de Montreal will study the eventual plan, citizens should participate in the consultation process. “Nobody on the borough council is an expert on railroads,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, in the southern part of the borough, work is currently underway to add a third set of tracks and install new signal gantries. The AMT held its public consultation meeting last July in St-Raymond, where increased train volume also means more problems for residents.
“Why hasn’t the borough taken long-term actions to help these residents and reduce sound and vibrations along those railway tracks in NDG, especially considering that train volume is going to more than double in the coming years?” asked NDG resident Andrew Ross.
NDG councillor Peter McQueen pointed out that the new tracks are welded, thus reducing noise. He supports the project underway – it will add a few more trains to provide better service, and will address the needs of John Abbott College students, but Projet Montreal does not support a huge investment in the Train de l’Ouest project for the benefit of the suburbs.