“We’re pretty steamed. This is getting a little out of hand,” Liberal MP Dan McTeague (Pickering-Scarborough East) said Tuesday evening, hours after another train jumped the tracks in the region.
“The chain of command here goes straight to the minister of transportation (John Baird) and I plan to raise this with him,” he added.
At about 3 p.m. Tuesday, three CN locomotives and nine freight cars left the tracks near the Pickering GO Transit station.
No one was hurt, but McTeague said it could have been a different story had the accident happened an hour later when GO train traffic is heavy and the station is full of commuters.
“The fact is we got lucky today,” McTeague said. “Obviously there has to be a greater measure of due diligence to create an environment that’s a lot safer.”
If Transport Canada and the railway companies cannot do more to protect the public then the federal government should look at imposing tougher regulations on the industry, he said.
Train derailments have been a concern in the Greater Toronto Area since the 1979 Mississauga derailment that saw 200,000 people evacuated after a CP train carrying explosive and poisonous chemicals left the tracks. With freight trains still travelling through the GTA’s heavily populated urban centres fears remain.
The CN train, heading from Vaughan to Montreal Tuesday, derailed near Liverpool Rd. The freight cars jack knifed at the western edge of the Pickering Go station passenger platform coming to rest very close to cars in the parking lot.
CN spokesman Mark Hallman said the nine cars were “scrunched up like an accordion.”
Emergency officials put out a fire in one car and cleaned up some diesel fuel that had leaked. Another car spilled a load of lumber onto the tracks and the parking lot nearby. A light standard was knocked over, damaging a vehicle in the station’s parking lot and the accident snarled rush-hour GO and VIA train service for several hours
But while the impact was relatively minor it joins a growing list of derailments in Durham region.
Yesterday’s was the sixth freight derailment in the area since 2004 and the second in the last five weeks after four freight cars jumped the tracks Feb. 19 near Oshawa’s GM plant.
The other four accidents involved:
• Two CP locomotives and 27 cars going off the rails in Oshawa last June.
• – Six CN cars leaving the tracks in Oshawa last May.
• – A CN freight train jumping the tracks in Pickering in March 2007.
• – Fourteen CP cargo containers derailing in Whitby January 2004. One of the cars fell from the bridge onto the car below, killing two women.
“It’s very, very disturbing,” said Pickering Mayor David Ryan, adding that the municipality sent letters to Transport Canada and CN after the 2007 derailment in the town. He said he got letters back but they were unsatisfactory.
Durham Region Chair Roger Anderson said residents have a right to know what CN is doing to maintain its tracks and trains.
“Obviously CN needs to do some work on the east end of their tracks,” he said.
Sheila Pitcher, whose home backs on the Bayly St., just across from the GO station, said she heard the train and then “a big bang.”
“I didn’t think much about it, because it went quiet again and I thought the train had carried on,” she said.
Pitcher said she realized that there had been an accident when police and fire sirens broke the silence of an otherwise another quiet afternoon.