The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Will
Carefully Study the Transportation Safety Board’s
Report on the Lillooet Accident.
The report made public last week by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada on the derailment of a train that occurred near Lillooet in 2006 raises questions about the lack of dynamic brake equipped locomotives on some of Canadian National’s trains.
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents the majority of Canadian National’s employees and, in particular, the two employees who lost their lives in this accident, is to study the report with the aim of making recommendations to the federal government to ensure that such an accident will never occur again.
“Our main concern has always been the safety of the workers we represent and of the Canadian population,” stated Daniel J. Shewchuk, president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents nearly 12,000 workers from the rail industry. “The tragic deaths of two members of our organization and the serious injuries sustained by a third worker have forever marked us."
In a communiqué, the Transportation Safety Board confirms having learned that “no risk assessment was done before removing locomotives equipped with dynamic braking from this extremely mountainous territory.”
“In my opinion, this fact is very troubling,” added Mr. Shewchuk. “We cannot allow Russian roulette to be played with workers' lives. It’s completely unacceptable.”
On June 29, 2006, a train that was negotiating sharp curves and a steep downgrade near Lillooet derailed because the brakes on the car and locomotive could not slow the train’s descent. The car was the first to derail and came to rest around 1000 feet down the mountain. Shortly thereafter, the locomotive derailed and slid about 800 feet down the mountain. Conductor Tom Dodd and Brakeman Don Faulkner were fatally injured and Locomotive Engineer Gordon Rhodes suffered serious injuries and had to be taken to a hospital.
The report also mentions that, more than three years later, Canadian National is still delaying implementation of certain corrective measures to ensure its employees’ safety.
The Teamsters Union will carefully study the report’s conclusions over the coming weeks before commenting on them.
The Teamsters Union represents 125,000 members in Canada in all trades. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.
Daniel J. Shewchuk, president of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
Stéphane Lacroix, director of communications of Teamsters Canada