David Thomas, Contributing Editor

David Thomas, Contributing Editor

David Thomas is a reporter who has covered government and society since graduating from Ottawa’s Carleton University with degrees in political science and journalism. He has written for National Geographic, Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The Gazette, and The Canadian Press news agency from postings in Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, and London, England. “Railroading has been a personal fascination since a childhood timed fortunately enough to witness the golden years of steam on the late-to-dieselize Canadian National and Canadian Pacific,” he says.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 13:46

Canada coal phase-out a ho-hum for CN, CP

The phase-out of coal for electricity generation announced by Canada’s greenish Liberal government Nov. 21 will have no impact on the country’s Class I railways. That’s because nearly all of CN and Canadian Pacific steam coal haulage originates and terminates within the U.S.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 12:38

Three years ago today...

Three years ago today, the people of Lac-Mégantic could never have imagined this.

Three years ago, in the early hours of July 13, a runaway oil train exploded in the then-idyllic lakeside town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

Canada’s chief financial watchdog praised VIA Rail’s internal management April 3 but slammed successive national governments for failing to support the state-owned passenger railway with strategic planning and capital investment.

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 14:28

National Dream redux

From the April 2016 issue of Railway Age: From the era of fur-trading voyageurs, the St. Lawrence River Valley between the Great Lakes and Montreal has been Canada’s economic aorta. Solitary canoes gave way to steamships, railways, airplanes and freeways, and the vital artery is now clogged within a smear of yellow smog, often thick enough to taste.

In a curious role reversal, Canada’s former Minister of Transport, now opposition politician Lisa Raitt, has revealed that the Canadian government quietly paid C$75 million toward compensation for victims of the 2013 oil trains disaster that killed 47 in the Quebec resort town of Lac-Mégantic.

A string of still-shiny, graffiti-free tank cars rests incongruously amid white apple blossoms with Oregon’s glaciered volcano shimmering in the distance.

Proposing a radical new business model, Quebec’s huge public pension fund announced April 22, 2016 that it will directly undertake construction and continuing operation of a 67-km (41.5-mile), double-tracked, electrified and fully automated rapid rail network, the Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM), which will transform commuting in Montreal and its immediate hinterland.

Thursday, 17 December 2015 15:11

Canada's Trudeau has final say on CP-NS merger

Rail industry cogitation focuses so far on Canadian Pacific's (CP) prospects for securing Surface Transportation Board (STB) approval for its—at first friendly and now increasingly hostile—attempt to take over Norfolk Southern (NS). Unremarked has been the even-less predictable, but equally essential, attitude of Canada's transportation and business regulators to a deal that would see one of the country's two Class I’s disappear into the alphabet soup of American megamergers.

Reaffirmation by the U.S. rail and hazardous materials regulators of new rules for the movement of flammable liquids means operational migraines for railroaders, without actually addressing the underlying cause of crude oil exploding in transit.

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