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Politicians demand more information from rail companies after Lac-Megantic disaster

For people living near the tracks, train cargo is an additional concern.
For people living near the tracks, train cargo is an additional concern. Noemie Cabana / Global News

MONTREAL – Almost two months after the tragedy that struck Lac-Megantic, politicians are taking a leap towards improved safety on the tracks.

Next Monday, Louise Harel’s Vision Montreal will table a motion asking the provincial and federal governments to allow cities access to information from the railroad companies.

“We want all the elected officials in Montreal to be unanimously in favour of asking the Quebec government for regulations to make sure we know what is going on in the train, and at what frequency,” said Montreal City Councillor Veronique Fournier.

Montreal’s South-West borough has some of the busiest tracks in the city. It’s also a densely populated area.

“There are people who live here in our neighbourhood right next to the tracks and they also have a right of being able to sleep at night, and not feeling like at any moment there could be a derailment,” said Peter King, an activist for train safety in Montreal.

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King added that, beyond the daily troubles of noise, speed is a major concern – and he’s not alone in being worried. In Vaudreuil-Dorion, just west of Montreal, citizens living near the tracks approached the mayor this spring, asking for permission to post unofficial speed limits along the railroad.

The city put up three signs in late July.

Although the train conductors have no obligation to follow these limits, the city hopes they’ll encourage trains to slow down.

The city’s mayor said residents have given positive feedback, an indication that their signs might be working.

For people living near the tracks, train cargo is an additional concern.

Local politicians hope that with better communication from the railroad companies, better emergency action plans can be put in place.

“We are saying today the right to be informed and the right of knowledge is non-negotiable and we want the government to take action on that,” said Fournier.

Vaudreuil-Dorion’s mayor Guy Pilon agreed: “Let’s say if they have a special convoy one time or pass something very hazardous, they should tell us.”

The motion will be tabled Aug. 26. Politicians hope to see action taken quickly.

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