Lac-Mégantic Rail Lines To Be Relocated 9 Years After Deadly Derailment

The rail relocation is pegged at an estimated $133 million dollars

Railway lines are essential to transporting goods across Canada and into North America. Although a very reliable form of transit, they are still prone to accidents and derailments and impede traffic flow when they run through significant intersections.

As a result of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster on July 6, 2013, an unattended 73-car freight train carrying crude oil from Nantes derailed downtown resulting in the explosion and fire of multiple tank cars resulting in the death of 47 people. 

As a result of the explosion, more than thirty buildings in Lac-Mégantic’s town centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were destroyed, and all but three of the thirty-nine remaining buildings had to be demolished due to petroleum contamination of the townsite.

The Lac-Mégantic rail derailment was one of the worst in Canadian history, prompting calls by the Town to have the rail lines moved out and relocated. Almost a decade later, that reality is about to happen for the people of Lac-Mégantic.

In a statement today, Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, announced that the Government of Canada had agreed in principle to acquire parcels of land owned by the Town to construct the Lac-Mégantic bypass. 

“With this agreement-in-principle, we have taken another step towards the realization of this rail bypass, which will ensure that the existing rail line will permanently leave downtown Lac-Mégantic. We will continue the required process over the next few months to finalize the purchase of the land parcels.” Said Alghabra

The Minister added that the Government of Canada is fully committed to the bypass project and the route identified to get trains out of downtown Lac-Mégantic permanently.

In the National Transportation Safety Board investigation, the accident was linked to numerous factors:

  • Leaving a train unattended on the mainline.
  • Failing to set enough handbrakes.
  • Not having a backup safety system.

With an agreement to relocate the Lac-Mégantic rail lines, a new precedent has been set for other provinces to follow. However, the cost and time frame poses significant hurdles for larger cities wanting to relocate rail lines. At a reported cost $133 million relocating the Lac-Mégantic rail lines is a drop in the bucket for the federal government. In comparison, the estimated cost to relocate the rail lines in Winnipeg was pegged at $1 Billion. 

Today’s news is a welcomed one that will help the people of Lac-Mégantic feel safer in their Town without the fear of anticipating a railcar explosion every time a train comes steaming through the town.

Image source Wiki