One of the crime scenes

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Railroad Safety,
an Oxymoron?

Could this be Cranbrook or Trail, next year? (Lac Megantic)
 Unfortunately for the giant corporations that run the railroads, they cannot replace their workers with cheap offshore labor - at least until they get remote operation of locomotives developed farther than when the CN almost took out part of Prince George a few years ago. So instead of replacing crews with cheap Chinese or East Indians, they just get rid of them, without any replacements. Neglecting infrastructure like trackage and bridges also helps cut costs also and running prairie grade equipment in the mountains of British Columbia, as CN did once it had stolen BC Rail from the people of BC with the assistance of Gordo "Capo" Campbell also helps to cut costs, and hell, what is the life of a crew man or two, as long as the profits flow ever more into the pockets of the greed bags who apparently run the world for their own gain.

For the first two or three years after CN began operating the old BC Rail line, there was an average of one derailment every three days, and I don't know if that has improved as I haven't seen any recent statistics. One at the north end of the Fraser Canyon cost two trainmen their lives and another (as a train was operated remotely between two yards in Prince George) necessitated the use of water bombers to save the city and dumped petroleum and god knows what else into the river. 

Everyone remembers the recent loss of the downtown of Lac Megantic in Quebec and the 47 people who paid with their lives thanks to a 72 tanker train left unattended on a grade, that was virtually unattended with only one crew member even when underway. But what is a death or two here and there, as Hunter Harrison the new CEO of Canadian Pacific said recently when confronted about the reduction of up to a third of the jobs at CP, at a time when the railway was doubling its amount of dangerous petroleum products carried on longer trains at higher speeds......
Mr. Harrison said he believed, despite the job losses, CP’s workforce has embraced the rapid changes implemented at the railway in recent months.
“There has been a lot accomplished, but there’s a lot more to do,” he said, adding that someone asked him the other day how long it takes to change a corporate culture.
“I’ll just tell you what Margaret Mead said. She said you do it one funeral at a time, and hopefully we can beat that pace a little bit,” he added.(my bolding)
But hey, bidness is bidness and last December when Mr. Harrison announced the eliminatiion of 4,000 jobs (it is now projected to be maybe more than 6,000), CP stock rose to an 52 week high, overnight.
Shares in Calgary-based Canadian Pacific hit a new 52-week high today, in the first trading after the railway announced it would cut 4,500 positions — a 23-per-cent reduction in the railway's 19,500-member workforce — by 2016.
The stock hit $98.04 before falling back to close at $96.82, a gain of $3.82, or 4.11 per cent, Wednesday in Toronto.
This came to my attention this morning when I heard on the CBC Radio News that 4 out of 7 safety inspectors in Cranbrook had been issued layoff notices. 
Just six weeks after a devastating train derailment and explosion in Quebec, one of Canada's major rail line operators is cutting more than half its safety inspectors in one B.C. Interior city.
Four of seven Canadian Pacific Railway inspectors, or 'Carmen', based in Cranbrook have been given layoff notices, and union official Bob Fitzgerald says that is a major safety concern — especially given what happened in Quebec on July 6.
"The quality of inspections and the frequency have got to decline," he said. "CP would be wise to take heed: what happened there — clearly, it can happen anywhere. They should think about that."
If one might think that the Lac Megantic tragedy was just a unfortunate rare occurance, without much research one can come up with.....
In May, a freight train jumped the tracks near Jansen, Sask., spilling 91,000 litres of oil. About 114,000 litres of oil spilled in March near Parkers Prairie, Minn., when 14 cars derailed.
A derailment of 22 cars west of White River, Ont., caused the spill of 110,000 litres of light crude oil and 22,500 litres of canola oil. A broken train wheel and broken track were recovered from the scene. Later in April, 17 cars carrying potash derailed near Provost, Alta.
Then there was the CP train coming down the steep grade into Trail a few years back that might have wound up at the main downtown intersection in Trail except for the heroic engineer who after telling the crew to jump off, guided the train to a safe crash spot, at the cost of his own life. Then there was the bridge that almost failed in Calgary during the flood.

Just think how profitable these companies could be if they maintained jobs and safety, but cut back on the shamefully outrageous compensation for executives, who would still be rich if their compensation was reduced by two thirds, which would in the case of each CEO would be savings equivalent to at least 200 jobs. What am I thinking though, cause greed trumps jobs for real people and even safety and life itself.  Besides, CP better be putting some bucks aside for the lawsuits most likely in their future, or maybe they will take the MM&A route of bankruptcy or go hat in hand to their buddies Slimey Steve and Flaherty.
Last week, the province of Quebec added CP to a list of defendants that it says are responsible for paying for the cleanup of the disaster area in Lac-Mégantic, Que., and lawyers representing victims of the disaster named Canadian Pacific in a class-action suit.
Both suits allege CP bears some of the responsibility for the deadly derailment, as it was the main contractor that handed over responsibility for the crude oil tankers to the smaller Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd., which then operated the tanker train that jumped the tracks in Lac-Mégantic on July 6.
Of course according to the overpaid masters of the universe, there will be no reduction in safety.
 Operating safely has been and always will be a No. 1 priority at CP and that focus is not going to change," said spokesman Ed Greenberg
Of course Mr. Harrison seems proud of his manly approach to business and he was quoted as saying....
 “I kind of went through Canada maybe like Sherman went through Atlanta,
Hunter Harrison - How much money does it take to make him smile?


Blogger Grant G said...

Nothing but a cold blank stare, thanks.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 4:09:00 PM PDT  

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