MASSE IN THE NEWS: Rail safety audit finds flaws

IDNUMBER 200904160026
PUBLICATION: The Windsor Star
DATE: 2009.04.16
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: A5
BYLINE: Dave Battagello
SOURCE: The Windsor Star
WORD COUNT: 248

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rail safety audit finds flaws

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Armed with a safety audit showing a more than 35 per cent defect rate for trains entering Windsor from the U.S., MP Brian Masse has called on Ottawa to reject CP Railway's plan to eliminate its local rail safety inspections.

Masse said the audit, conducted by Transport Canada earlier this year, shows that trains entering the country pose a hazard if they are not inspected and repaired after they cross the border.

The audit conducted in Windsor's yard between Jan. 1 and March 27 randomly inspected 108 freight cars, most arriving from the U.S. Forty of the cars -- 36.1 per cent -- needed repairs.

While most of the defects were minor, such as faulty door locks, others included missing or broken brake beam rod supports which could cause a derailment.

Others included broken side springs, cracked support beams for the cars and cracked coupler knuckles which cause cars to break away.

Masse received the audit anonymously at his office.

CP's plan calls for inspections of railway freight cars entering from the U.S. to take place in Toronto. The company is to put its new protocol into place April 24.

Transport Canada has previously rejected similar CP Rail inspection changes in Edmonton and Cranbrook, B.C., Masse said.

transportation minister John Baird said Transport Canada officials toured the site recently and "evaluation work is ongoing.

"Our top priority is public safety. It's premature to comment before we've looked at all the facts."

CP Rail is laying off 24 mechanical services workers in Windsor.

Employee Mike Tripp said his co-workers are highly trained rail mechanics who often pull cars off a freight train and have them repaired.

"It's about their bottom line and throwing safety out the window," he said of the company's new plans. "They are putting people in danger and I can't stress that enough."