Lack of Communication Following Train Derailment Frustrates Cramahe Township Mayor

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Cramahe Township Mayor Marc Coombs is clearly frustrated at the lack of communication by CN Rail after the township wasn’t notified of a train derailment on Tuesday, June 5, 2018.
It was Today’s Northumberland that first notified Cramahe Township about the derailment.
Two rail cars collided and at least one of the cars derailed west of Blyth Park Road south of Salem (east of Colborne) late Tuesday morning. The derailment/collision was only effecting one CN track.
By 5 p.m. Blyth Park Road was lined with CN Rail vehicles and heavy equipment, some of it brought in from Quebec to clear the two rail cars. Though it appears there was heavy damage to one of the rail cars, a e-mail sent to Mayor Marc Coombs from CN Rail stated,
Hello Your Worship,
Earlier this afternoon, CN crews responded to a minor derailment involving two cars in Cramahe, near Brighton. No dangerous goods or injuries were involved and the cars were upright. The train moved on less than two hours later and the cause of this incident is under investigation.
Best regards
Daniel Salvatore
“Though they called it “minor” it did hold up traffic and it was in our municipality,” said Mayor Marc Coombs.
“Nobody in our municipality was advised this happened and we’ve had issues before with lack of notification from CN about trains being stalled on the tracks and different things happening.”
Coombs first heard about the derailment after Today’s Northumberland notified Cramahe Township Fire Department who forwarded the information on to Mayor Coombs shortly after 4 p.m.
Coombs later received an e-mail from CN Rail approximately two hours later at 6:08 p.m.
“Why am I getting it several hours later?”
“These things shouldn’t be word of mouth, there should be a protocol in place to let us know what’s going on.”
“We’ve had face to face meetings with CN regarding this because we also had concerns from residents living south of the tracks about often the tracks being blocked and often two crossings being blocked.”
Coombs said there is a emergency protocol in place for incidents, but added, “CN should realize residents are very sensitive to these kinds of issues.”
There was a major derailment in the same area several years ago and Coombs said during that time “they were very unforthcoming with information about what was going on.”
Coombs added he gets the impression when dealing with CN Rail that, “they act like a private corporation that can do what they want without any oversite from anybody.”
A CN Rail worker on-site of the derailment said a monstrous bull-dozer brought in from Quebec had to get special permission from Transport Canada to get to the site. As the bull-dozer was unloaded it tore up part of the roadway before getting to the railway tracks. But soon after it started to travel to the site of the derailment workers stopped it as it started to tear up the railway ties due to the weight and workers tried to come up with another plan of action.
Ironically, to get the heavy machine back to Quebec, they have to go through the same paperwork.
A number of backhoes traveled to the site but as of 7:30 p.m. even though the press release said, “the train moved on less than two hours later” it still appeared the trains that had collided had not been moved since the initial derailment.
Cramahe Township Deputy Fire Chief Tim Burgess said although the derailment was in the area of the Blyth Park Road and Colton Drive it still effected other crossings.
“We have this compensatory measure in place tonight where we have fire department officers looking at the best crossings and trying to mitigate and speed up our response.”
“The trains have to slow down, it’s a worker safety issue and we understand that, but we also have requirements to get to an emergency as fast as possible.”
After trains leave the area of the derailment they will take time to get back up to speed thereby taking longer to clear other crossings in the Township.
“So we’re looking at different crossings, how fast the trains are going so we can respond in a timely, safe manner.”
“We do not want to have a delayed response by any means.”
Speaking on site with members of CN Rail and communicating with other members of the railway by phone Burgess said, “sometimes it’s not CN Rail it’s the people in between where the communication breaks down. They were following their protocol. They passed their information on, but there was a breakdown in the province somewhere.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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