Blocked track angers residents

Several Notch Hill residents were frustrated, angry and concerned about safety Wednesday morning when a CP Rail coal train blocked the only road out of the Davies Road area for four-and-a-half hours.

It was a mechanical failure in an area of the train that prevented workers from splitting the train at the crossing, says CP Rail media rep Kevin Hrysak.

Resident Mike Smallenberg’s attempts to go to work just before 5:30 a.m. were foiled by the broken-down train. He says a railway employee told him the company switched from 7,000-foot freight trains to an average of 10,000 to 14,000 feet.

“I guess what the problem here is, it’s at the peak and too heavy and long,” says Mike’s wife, Pam, of her belief the trains are now too heavy to go up the grade. “Last summer there were two back-to-back within a couple of weeks and everyone was just choked.”

The Smallenbergs, who live beside the tracks, call CP Rail Police every time there is an incident.

“Our predicament is if we have a fire or need an ambulance we wouldn’t be able to have that service,” she says.

Frustrated young mother Kelly Brouwer agrees.

“If there’s a medical emergency, you can maybe get a helicopter, but if there’s a fire, someone’s house is gone,” she said, adding that her father who operates his own mechanic shop had to send away a couple of customers and a Salmon Arm parts supplier.

And even though CP Rail staff split the train west of the rail crossing in order to get children across the tracks to the school bus, Brouwer says there was no way she could lift her five-year-old son and one-year-old daughter up through the snow.

Hrysak says such a breakdown is a rare occurrence, that CP Rail understands residents’ concerns and regrets the inconvenience.

He says residents may call Community Connect at 1-800-766-7912 to express their concerns or investigate possible compensation for loss of wages and other costs.

“That’s the sole purpose of that position; to deal with those types of complaints. There are ways to look at operational issues and potentially help rectify the situation.”


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