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City meeting with CN a first step

There have been a few railway related issues that city council has been grappling with recently and they were able to have some of their questions answered during a meeting with a CN Rail representative yesterday. City residents have been encountering problems with trains blocking intersections for lengthy periods of time during peak traffic. Mayor Bill Given says city council learned that under federal regulations, the maximum length of a train is two miles.

“That’s pretty substantial and the length of the train units that are assembled here is directly in response to CN’s customers so it’s essentially market driven. It was a bit disappointing to hear that we don’t have more influence on that, but now knowing the ground rules we can do more investigation about what might be possible.”

Another big concern that City Councillors have heard time and time again is about the disruptiveness of train whistles that can be heard throughout the city at all hours of the day and night. There have been requests for the city to begin a process that would eventually silence those whistles, but Given says dealing with that particular issue would still take at least a couple of years and would have a significant cost for the city.

“There’s a requirement for a safety audit for any proposed intersection where we would like them to not whistle. The next stage from there is to design improvements that would be needed to allow CN to silence their whistles. After all of those improvements are made that’s when CN would be allowed, under federal regulations, to stop whistling.”

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Any changes to how rail companies operate in the city come with a fair share of complexity, though Given says that is more due to working withfederal regulations that surround rail transportation.

“Is it CN’s fault? No, I don’t think so, they’re just a big, national company. This is one of the few areas where the city as a local government, and the federal government, have paths cross and wherever those federal government and local government intersections are, that’s where we find some significant challenges.”

Given says he is satisfied with the dialogue that City Councillors were able to have with the CN Rail rep, but he wouldn’t call this the end of the discussion. He says there will be a number of steps for the city to consider as they work with administration to decide where they can have the best and most meaningful impact.

CN Rail could not be reached for comment on the meeting.

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