Editorial: Roll on Safely

Editorial comment looks at issues relating to local railroad safety

Accidents are an accepted part of life.

While increasing levels of time, effort and expense are devoted to reducing the liklihood of accidents – they will always occur, pretty much anywhere they can happen. Every day, every moment that goes by between the times of stress, confusion and sorrow caused by vehicular accidents is something to be grateful for.

Castlegar, like any community with a railway going through it, is suseptible to significant damage in the event of a derailment, especially with the toxic cargo so commonly carried on local trains.

Up until the catastrophy of several months ago in Quebec, how many would have been familiar with the small town of Lac Megantic? From now on it will be identified as the place practically blown off the map by exploding oil-filled rail cars. Many lives were lost and many years will go by before any kind of recovery is possible for the town.

The stark truth is that trains can’t be guaranteed to stay on rails any more than cars can be guananteed to stay on roads. It’s an issue of the public interest that rises and falls according to the location and severity of the latest incident.

Steps that can boost public confidence in our rail system are to make sure maintenance is up to date, and for authorities, when questioned on the matter, to be forthcoming and informative. After all, a citizen walking along the tracks is hardly qualified to assess the condition/safety of the railway.

In matters like this it’s somewhat reassuring to hear from fire chief Gerry Rempel about the good relationship the city has with CP Rail.