Repair crews were at the site of a minor train derailment north of Hope in the Fraser Canyon Friday morning, after four empty freight cars left the track in Dogwood Valley.
The incident occurred at around 7 a.m., witnesses said, causing substantial damage to the track, as well as the main road out of the community. Rail ties were torn up and the control arm at Park Lane Drive was taken out.
A spokesperson for CP Rail confirmed there were no injures and said there was no risk to the surrounding public.
“CP’s emergency protocols were immediately enacted and all safety precautions and measures were taken,” said Salem Woodrow. “CP takes safety and every incident seriously and a full investigation will be undertaken into what took place.”
However, local residents have been lobbying for better rail line maintenance for awhile. Area B electoral director Dennis Adamson said people have contacted him with concerns about the wear and tear on the tracks from more frequent, heavier and longer trains. Some are also worried about the amount of hazardous materials being transported.
“Every week I get people calling me with concerns about the railroad. Thank God they were empty coal cars because if they were full it could have been a lot worse,” said Adamson. “Communities have raised concerns across the country at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and Federation of Canadian Municipalities about rail traffic in general. There’s always a problem with the trains.”
Dogwood Valley resident Gail Stephenson believes Friday’s derailment could have been prevented. She emailed CP Rail on Jan. 12, 2014 to warn them about the need for track maintenance at the Park Lane Drive crossing. In her email, Stephenson said the crossing “has deteriorated to the point that it is frightening to see a train on it. I would like it to be repaired before there is a derailment.” Someone from CP Rail was sent out to inspect the crossing but it was never repaired.
“They could have fixed this with a lot less money. The derailment wasn’t a surprise to me,” said Stephenson, adding that if the freight cars had been full they probably would have ended up on neighbouring properties. A house is located within about 46 metres (50 yards) of the track.
“You would sit there waiting for a train to go by and the way the rails were bouncing up and down was just frightening. There would be six or eight inches of play between. It was just terrible and scary.”