Lac-Mégantic disaster: Railway’s one-man crew documents kept secret

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One year before the Lac-Mégantic train disaster, Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway began running trains steered by a sole engineer to the small town — a bare-bones staffing arrangement that began after Transport Canada approved the safety measures the company had in place.

MMA had to provide two documents to the regulator: a risk assessment, covering a range of hazards to be mitigated, and an implementation plan, detailing the practices and technologies in place to make the reduced staffing safe.

But these documents are considered to be “third party” by Transport Canada, meaning the regulator will not release them to the public — despite the fact they contain MMA’s public safety commitments.

The secrecy leaves Canadians in the dark about their security, say public safety advocates.

“In effect, Transport Canada is accepting a higher level of risk to the public so the operator can reduce their costs. This is a fairly important trade-off and it needs to be made in an open and transparent manner,” said Mark Winfield, a York University associate professor who researches public safety regulation.

“The public has a right to know about, and to question, these arrangements.”

After Transport Canada referred the Star to MMA for the documents, company chairman Edward Burkhardt declined to provide them.


Lac-Mégantic disaster: Railway’s one-man crew documents kept secret | Toronto Star
El Barto
+1 / -1
Was not much of a secret here. We were expecting a derailment eventually. The tracks are in bad shape hence the lower speeds we see them at.

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