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Rail News: Safety

Lac-Megantic studies proposed rail pass to avoid downtown


The city of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, is studying the feasibility of constructing a new rail bypass that would allow freight trains to avoid traveling through the city's downtown area, which was the site of a devastating oil train disaster that killed 47 people three years ago.

City officials called on the public to comment on this first phase of the feasibility study, which has been underway for about nine months. Citizens were invited to participate in public meetings yesterday and today, according to a press release issued by the city.

The new 7.5-mile track would cost about $115 million in Canadian dollars.

Local residents will be invited to participate in the study's second phase, which will feature preliminary design, environmental impacts and the preferred corridor, city officials said.

"Since this is an unprecedented case that requires reflection, we believe that the decision to go ahead will be made by the different levels of government in a year," said Lac-Megantic Mayor Jean-Guy Cloutier, who has been calling for a rail bypass to avoid another potential train disaster.

"We hope that people will come in large numbers in order to understand the stakes of this great project and especially to demonstrate the different levels of government that we have an interest in the realization of this rail bypass," he said.

On July 6, 2013, a runaway crude-oil train derailed and its cars exploded in downtown Lac-Megantic. The fiery accident caused 47 fatalities and destroyed more than 30 buildings. It is considered the worst train accident in Canada's history.