On the heels of announcing new blockades on its network, CN revealed that it is supportive of the decision by Canada’s Transport Minister to amend the Ministerial Order issued on Feb. 7.
That Order restricted the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods on all parts of the railway networks in Canada, the consequence of which was a reduction in at least a third of CN’s overall network capacity for all trains, even those not carrying dangerous goods.
By revising the order to take into account substantial investments made to equip mainline tracks with automated signaling technology, which represents the vast majority of CN’s network, CN will be able to recover more efficiently from the illegal blockades.
“Safety is a core value at CN, and we are supportive of the Minister of Transportation’s decision,” said JJ Ruest, President and CEO at CN. “We are committed to working over the next several weeks with Transport Canada on recommendations to increase overall safety by reducing derailments. The safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate is not something on which we ever compromise. This amended Ministerial Order focuses on the safety of Canadians, particularly those living close to rail lines and that is of paramount importance to CN.
“The ruling will allow us to use our capacity to recover in the Western region as we resume the delivery of our customers’ goods that are important to the everyday lives of Canadians and the Canadian economy. We will implement a similar recovery plan across our Eastern region when all the blockades are fully ended, including the one in Belleville, Ontario, which is into its 10th day. We wish to thank our customers, employees, supply chain partners and all who continue to support CN during this very unfortunate time. We are working very hard to recover our North American network upon the lifting of any and all illegal blockades.”
CN noted that the new blockades on its network include one in Vancouver, B.C., and two in Vaughan, ON. CN has sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies to end these illegal blockades. While both of the illegal blockades in Vaughan have ended and the other one in Vancouver may come to an end shortly, CN has deep concerns regarding the safety of its employees, the public and the protestors.
“In Vaughan, protesters put their personal safety at risk by climbing on and between railcars,” said Ruest. ‘’The protesters trespassed on active railway tracks and on active trains to hang their banners and take photos of themselves. Trespassing on railway property and tampering with railway equipment is not only illegal, but also exceedingly dangerous. A train can arrive or a railcar can move at any time. A serious and even fatal incident could be the outcome. Safety is a core value at CN and every time a breach like this occurs, we send railway experts to inspect the track and equipment for the safety of our employees and the public, which further slows the movement of goods.”
The illegal blockade of CN tracks at Tyendiaga, ON, continues into its ninth day. To this day, the orders of the court have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored by protesters. The shutdown of CN’s Eastern Canadian network will continue until the illegal blockades end, affecting both freight and passenger trains.
“Unfortunately, service to VIA Rail and Amtrak has been discontinued across Canada,” said Ruest. “It is unsafe to allow passenger trains to start trips across our network when we have no control over where, when or how an illegal blockade may occur. It would be irresponsible to allow the travelling public to be trapped in a blockade.”