Rail restrictions implemented by Ottawa amid B.C. wildfires

The investigation is only just beginning into what sparked the deadly Lytton Creek Complex fire but the possibility that a freight train may have started the wildfire is highlighting the legal responsibilities of rail companies when it comes to maintaining their tracks. Kristen Robinson reports.

Trains travelling through B.C. will have to abide by a list of new rules as wildfire risk continues to threaten the province.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced fire suppression efforts must be incorporated into business operations for Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways in the region until Oct. 31. CN and CP must respond within 60 minutes to any fires detected along rail lines running through Lytton, B.C., with the goal of extinguishing or controlling the blaze and asking the local fire service for help if necessary.

Conductors will be responsible for spotting and reporting fires and measures will be put in place to remove combustible material.

At least 10 fire detection patrols must be conducted every 24 hours in subdivisions of concern and the corporations must consult with Indigenous governing bodies in the region.

Trains will also be slowed when temperatures reach above 30 C.

“Unprecedented weather conditions in British Columbia continue to pose a serious threat to public safety and railway operations,” Alghabra said in a statement. “The government of Canada remains committed to supporting those affected by the devastating wildfires in British Columbia and will not hesitate to take any safety actions that are necessary to mitigate these risks to public safety and the integrity of railway tracks and infrastructure.”

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TSB deploys team to Lytton to probe ‘fire potentially involving a freight train’

Concerns have been raised that the wildfire that destroyed the village of Lytton may have been caused by a train rolling through town, but an official determination has yet to be confirmed.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said Friday that it is deploying a team of investigators to Lytton “following a fire potentially involving a freight train.”

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It is not yet known which rail line is linked to the train in question, and neither Canadian National nor
Canadian Pacific has filed any occurrence reports related to the Lytton fire, the board said.

CN has said its trains were not linked to the fire, and CP resumed its service through Lytton on Monday.

Both CN Rail and CP Rail have pledged to cooperate with any investigation into the fire, and have pledged financial support for Lytton residents.

— With files from Simon Little and The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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