One of the crime scenes

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Oxymoron Alert!

CN Operating Remotely
Prince George August 2006
image from Opinion250

"they use a system of remote cameras and computers that do not need visual surveillance of the yard or yards under their control"

When CN took over control of what used to be BC Rail Gordon Campbell assured us that this would result in improvements in service and benefit the citizens of British Columbia. We wouldn't just be able to party on that imaginary One Billion Dollar Cheque, but would all benefit from improved rail service. In all the discussion and questions about the legitimacy and financial aspects of the deal, perhaps not enough attention is being paid to the question of whether there really have been any benefits at all.

It is clear that improved safety wasn't any kind of immediate gain. As soon as the railway was taken over by CN the specialized locomotives with brakes and power designed for BC's steep terrain were considered too costly and were replaced in many cases by equipment perfectly suitable for the praries, but not for the grades of the Fraser Canyon and Cariboo/Chilcotin, some of the most challenging terrain for railroading outside of the Andes. The accident rate was averaging one every three days for awhile, making it pretty easy for the lady spokesperson to easily say in a couple years that they had improved. The so-called experts are today eager to say that the economic crisis is almost over and things are better all ready, but the last time I looked the TSX was still below 10,000. The simple fact is that when things are bad, just being temporarily a little less bad IS an improvement, but a 10% gain after a 200% loss isn't really "Happy Times are Here Again."

One of these accidents near Lilloet caused two trainmen to lose their lives trying to descend a grade with prarie grade equipment that should never have been used on that section of track. A subsequent investigation proved that, but of course this did little for the family members of the trainmen lost because of CN's attempts to cut costs.

Gary E. of the blog How Bad is the Record has been digging up and publishing many documents dealing with the transfer of BC Rail and the almost immediate attempt by CN to have the assessed value of properties involved in the STILL SECRET deal reduced. In one case they felt that they shouldn't have to pay based on the value of buildings they CHOSE not to utilize. Thanks to Gary we can read the:

Decision and Order

B C Rail Partnership
B C Railway Company

Assessor Of Area #08 - Vancouver Sea To Sky Region

CN through its proxy BC Rail Partnership et. al. are simply trying to reduce their taxes owing to Area #08 and apparently hadn't thought of the now fashionable Catalyst Paper tactic of simply remitting what THEY THINK THEY SHOULD! One section of the legal verbiage (sometimes one would think lawyers charge by the word) is as follows:

II. Value of Improvements on the Forsythe Site

[67] The Forsythe Site is located in the Main Yard and includes a control tower and office building.

[68] The control tower on the site was constructed in 1995 and the office building in 1994.

[69] BC Rail, prior to the acquisition by CN, in its rail operations made full use of both the tower, for yard control, and the office building, for administration and yard crew support (changing and lunch rooms).

[70] However, CN says that it does not need the tower for yard control, as they use a system of remote cameras and computers that do not need visual surveillance of the yard or yards under their control. They also argued that administration and yard crew support can be operated out of modular buildings, such as Atco trailers. Mr. Berriault testified that neither the office building nor the tower would have been constructed by CN.

The picture at the top is a result of not needing visual surveillance and operating TRAINS unmanned and unmonitored even by human eyeballs between the old BC Rail Yard and the CN Yard in Prince George - luckily the whole city didn't burn to the ground that day - you usually don't see water bombers in town. Of course the BC liaR's PR firm Assperson Press and Glow Ball TeeVee maintained that the incident illustrated above was a minor mix-up in the SWITCHING YARD and no big deal. It was only thanks to locals with digital cameras and some local media like Opinion250 that anyone knew about the almost catastrophic fire OR the spill of diesel fuel into the river.

So we didn't gain in safety. Apparently CN was supposed to supply 600 new railcars for shippers of goods from the north - but no one can verify if this ever happened.

When BC Rail operated the line the railway itself maintained the fences to help prevent the killing of cattle by trains. Under CN that became the responsibility and cost of the ranchers. Of course during the phoney election just past, Gordo the Greedy made some noises about CN stepping up to the plate and assuming the same responsibilities that BC Rail had previously. I'm not sure how this has turned out, but I remember that Gordon Campbell campaigned in 2001 on a promise to NOT SELL BC RAIL! So either somebody LIED or CN stole a railroad (or does he get off because he didn't sell it, HE GAVE IT AWAY?)


Blogger Gary E said...

Thanks for the plug Kootcoot.

Just a word, the Forsythe Property was once a family owned piece of the waterfront in North Van. I was told years ago by a family member that their property was the only privately owned piece outside the Squamish Reserve. This property cut through the reserve on the north shore. And that reserve(at the time) ran from Ambleside Park (Park Royal is on Reserve Land as is the Lions Gate Bridge)to Deep Cove. Right now I am trying to get word from the Band if any of this property will disappear from the reserve on July 14,2009.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 9:45:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary E,

You deserve a special gold medal for quietly digging, drilling, and finding important pieces of information.

Who knew this stuff that you've just told us?

Thanks, and thanks again.

BC Mary
(Couldn't sign in, for some reason.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 3:01:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Gary E said...

Thanks Mary

Mary, Koot, Leah, Laila and others. I am searching for a document that was in the Federal website I once found on BC Rail. It was in the 90's and the timing may explain why the NDP appears to be sitting on their collective asses. I had found it when I was using Explorer but have since changed my browser so I have to start the search again.

Sunday, July 12, 2009 at 10:06:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Gary E said...

I still haven't found that piece from the BC Government of the day on the railway. Getting old. Was a time when I could flash to almost anything.

Friday, July 17, 2009 at 10:11:00 AM PDT  

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