Even if it wanted to, CP Rail could not stop shipping dangerous goods through communities like Salmon Arm.
Mike LoVecchio, CP’s director of government affairs, spoke to Salmon Arm council Monday, explaining the railway is required by law in Canada and the U.S. to move all manner of goods.
He also emphasized what an excellent safety record CP Rail has and how it’s well prepared for emergencies.
“We are the industry leader when it comes to safety.”
Ammonia, jet fuel, chlorine and crude oil are some of the dangerous goods carried, but such goods make up only three per cent of the railway’s North American traffic.
“You see tank cars coming through town every day,” he pointed out, but generally they’re not carrying a dangerous good. The railway moves a lot of canola oil, for instance.
A quarterly list of every dangerous good transported through a community is given to the fire department, to be kept confidential. Adding to the railway’s ability to track cars is an app.
“We know where the car is, if it’s loaded or not and what it’s carrying.”
The app can provide a view of the close vicinity.
“It gives first responders knowledge of what’s immediately next to the… car.”
Although the Salmon Arm Fire Department doesn’t yet have access to the technology, LoVecchio said it will be supplied.
And all such information is kept confidential, only accessible to the railway and first responders.
“In the world we live in, we do not want a bulls-eye on our train.”
LoVechio said emergency response training will be held in Salmon Arm with the fire department on March 30 and 31.
Coun. Debbie Cannon asked how many trains go through Salmon Arm.
“A safe number would be 30 trains in both directions in 24 hours,” LoVecchio said. “Roughly 15 each way.”
A few factors can increase that, he said, such as harvest in the prairies.
“And the run up to the Christmas period when inter-modal is very strong.”
He said the railway doesn’t expect to increase the number of trains, as it can accommodate spikes in goods by increasing their length. He said there are no physical limitations to the length of trains, except the sidings allowing two trains to pass in opposite directions must be long enough to accommodate the length.
Most trains are 7,500 to 8,000 feet in length, with plans to push that to 10,000. In Salmon Arm, the siding is slightly over 10,000 feet.
LoVecchio touted use of the railway.
“One freight train equals approximately 280 trucks off our publicly funded roadways. In a city like Salmon Arm, dissected by the highway, 280 trucks has real meaning.”