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Quebec accident fallout: CTA orders CP to interchange with MMA; TSB ponders PTC regulation

Canadian Pacific yesterday announced that the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has ordered the Class I to interchange traffic with the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd. (MMA), effective immediately.

On Aug. 13, CP issued an embargo regulating the interchange of all MMA traffic in response to the CTA's decision that day to withdraw MMA's certificate of fitness, which suspended the regional from operating in Canada. The CTA later modified its decision to permit the MMA to continue operating until Oct. 1, with the condition that the railroad prove it has adequate third-party insurance.

CP expressed concerns regarding MMA's "fitness" to safely handle hazardous materials, including crude oil, after the Lac-Mégantic derailment, CP officials said in a press release. The CTA dismissed the Class I's arguments and ordered CP to lift the embargo, they said.

"While we disagree with this order, we have taken immediate steps to comply," said CP Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison. "The CTA, as federal regulator, has satisfied itself that MMA is fit to operate and has adequate insurance to do so. We will review our legal options."

Meanwhile, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is determining whether Canada should require railroads to implement positive train control (PTC) because of the Lac-Mégantic accident, according to a news item posted on the United Transportation Union's website.

Two major train derailments that occurred in 2010 and 2012 have been linked to trainmen not following signal indications, the news item states. In both cases, trains were traveling at excessive speeds while switching tracks, and either missed or misinterpreted signals.

There are ongoing discussions about PTC, which would automatically reduce a train's speed if it were moving too fast, according to the TSB. The board also is looking into requiring video and voice recording systems inside locomotives cabs as a source of recorded data in the event of another derailment or train disaster like the one that occurred in Lac-Mégantic.

The TSB would make any recommendations to Transport Canada, which then would decide whether to require PTC or any recording systems.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/23/2013