The number of defective rails reported by ultrasound vehicle has more than doubled since 2015 on the railway between Farnham and Lac-Mégantic. There were 115 in 2015 while this number had increased to 253 in 2018. This is an increase of 110%.
This the conclusion of a formal document sent to Transport Canada Railway Central Maine and Quebec Railway Canada Inc. (CMQR) last May 7 and whose Tribune obtained a copy. The report describes the number of broken rails as “alarming”.
“I am of the opinion that the current situation is likely to jeopardize railway safety imminently,” says a railway safety inspector appointed by the Minister of Transport. The inspection allowed us to observe several urgent situations and concerns that required immediate repairs or the application of speed restrictions. ”
The inspection also highlighted wave wear on rails over 30,956 feet and presence of mud or ballast conditions clogged over 27,245 feet.
Finally, between January 1, 2019 and May 1, 2019, a total of 59 broken rails were discovered following a visual inspection. Of these, 52 broken rails were discovered by railway employees during their inspections and seven broken rails were discovered by the inspector.
The CMQR reacts
Joined by La Tribune , Daniel Aubé, maintenance manager for CMQR on the section linking Farnham to Lac-Mégantic, confirmed that all the broken rails had been repaired. He made a point of relativising the figures indicated in the document.
“It has nothing to do with the quality of the maintenance of the railway,” says Aubé. It goes like this is how it is this year, it may be lower next year. All broken sections have been repaired. Some were changed immediately and crushed was expanded in some places to allow a machine to repair corrugated sections. ”
Mr. Aubé also confirmed that he had gone from two ultrasonic inspections a year to three following receipt of this report.
The report indicates that these new inspection frequencies will remain in effect until Transport Canada is satisfied that the number of defective rails has decreased significantly and has reached a number that we can be satisfied with. Transport Canada finally ensures that it will monitor the implementation of the measures taken by CMQR and will take appropriate action if it detects problems that could compromise safety.
A disturbing situation
Robert Bellefleur, spokesperson for the Lac-Mégantic Coalition of Citizens and Organizations Committed to Railway Safety, welcomed the Transport Canada report with great concern.
“We are very worried and not only for Lac-Mégantic,” he admits. We are afraid that an accident like Lac-Mégantic will happen again in Estrie. We will have the chance to have a brand new bypass lane, but for all the municipalities of Estrie, they will stay with the old railway line. Many defects and dangers are tolerated on the railroad by slowing down trains. We should be more proactive than that. ”
Mr. Bellefleur nevertheless felt that the publication of this information is a step forward
“We have for the first time a report from an inspector who seems to confirm everything that has been said for five years. We passed for alarmists, but finally we have a report. ”
The Mayor of Lac-Mégantic, Julie Morin described the report as “worrying”.
“The good news is that Transport Canada seems to have done its job by requiring the company to make the necessary improvements. It is clear in my mind that this report confirms that a bypass is needed in Lac-Mégantic. “.
According to her, this report is a reminder of the importance of rail safety.
“All Quebec municipalities that are crossed by a railway should be concerned about the quality of rails,” says Morin. In addition to the bypass project, I am on all rail committees, whether federal or provincial. We act a little like a watchdog. It is not because we will have a bypass that we should not continue to make sure of the quality of the rails. ”
“It’s frustrating,” she adds. We still have a downtown to rebuild and we still have a weakened population. We should be able to put 100% of our energy on it, but we still have to put some on the rail problems because if we do not do it, we get the impression that there can be a let-go. ”
Robert Bellefleur also pointed out some irregularities during the repair of the rails. The mayor confirms that as soon as a citizen reports an anomaly, the municipality communicates with CMQR.
+ Number of faulty rails between Farnham and Lac-Mégantic
2015: 115 faulty rails
2016: 175 faulty rails
2017: 185 faulty rails
2018: 253 defective rails