E&N safe: rail boss

Brian / Wilford Oceanside Star 

October 3, 2013 12:00 AM

The Island railway is safe for freight, Southern Railway President Frank Butzelaar says in a letter Tuesday to Parksville Mayor Chris Burger.
Butzelaar says he felt “compelled” to write the letter after reading the story ‘City wants proof railway is safe’ in the Sept. 26 Oceanside Star.
“The tracks are in really rough shape,” Burger told council that week.
Council then voted to instruct Coun. Marc Lefebvre, its representative to the Regional District of Nanaimo, to ask the RDN to ask the Island Corridor Foundation, owners of the E&N Rail line, for confirmation that the line is safe.
Southern operates the railway under the regulatory oversight of the B.C. Safety Authority, which has adopted Transport Canada’s regulations, Butzelaar says in his letter. “The railway on Vancouver Island is professionally managed and operated safely, meeting all federal and provincial safety standards.”
Passenger service was halted on the line in March 2011, he says, “because of the inability to continue to meet standards at track speeds required to continue to render the passenger service viable from a scheduling perspective.”
The ICF has an $18.2-million pool of tax dollars to fix the rail bed and bridges but it can’t spend most of it without an operating agreement from Via Rail. Butzelaar says the track is inspected and tested regularly by both staff and outside contractors, including using ultrasound to detect defects, most recently in September.
“All defects discovered in those rounds of testing were corrected and/or protected by speed reduction as required in order to maintain full compliance,” he says, noting that this applies to rail crossings, as well.
“Railway safety standards are based on operating speeds,” he says. “The freight service has been slowed to assure safe operation and compliance with those standards.”
Butzelaar says the $18.2 million in upgrades will allow passenger service to resume.
The B.C. Safety Authority has reviewed Southern’s infrastructure improvement plan, he says, and agrees in an April 2012 letter that when the plan is implemented, “the railway will meet or exceed the standard under the adopted regulation for Rules Respecting Track Safety.”
Butzelaar says Southern takes pride in its safety record, “including a record of zero mainline derailments on Vancouver Island since commencement of operations in 2006. Rest assured that we take safety extremely seriously and it is our commitment to continue that record.”
© Copyright 2013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *