Councillors invited CP following a derailment in Wanup in June, and after the tragedy in July in Lac-Megantic when a derailed train exploded in that community's downtown, killing 47 people. In his address, Randy Marsh, CP's director of communications, outlined the railway's safety record and policies.
He answered questions from councillors, including one about why train whistles blow at all hours of the night. It's the law, he said, and important for safety that the whistle blows whenever the train is at a public crossing.
But when Marsh was asked about the possibility of moving the tracks out of downtown, he said it was an issue in several communities across Canada, not just Sudbury. However, if the city wished to build rerouted tracks around downtown, complete with switches, he said CP might be willing to talk.
“But it would be quite onerous” for the city to get all the necessary environmental approvals, he warned, in addition to paying for the massive construction costs.
Marsh also responded to calls from the federal NDP for railways to inform municipalities about exactly what each train is carrying, so they can be prepared in case of a derailment.
With so many trains running at the same time, with so many different cargoes, Marsh said giving every community that sort of information would be a huge challenge.
“Logistically, it would be almost impossible,” he said.
Equally as important, he said, in the post-9/11 world, such information could fall into the wrong hands, he said, and make the trains a target for a terrorist attack.
However, he said CP is committed to working with local emergency workers on how to respond to accidents involving any of the hazardous materials the railway transports. And, he said, individual fire chiefs can contact CP to find out what's on the trains headed to their cities at any given time.