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The rail line near Whitecourt - Date unknown Peter Shokeir.
7 November 2017
Local MP Voices Concern
on Blocked Rail Crossings


Whitecourt Alberta - Yellowhead MP Jim Eglinski spoke out about the wait times of CN Rail blockages in rural areas on 25 Oct 2017 in hopes of seeing the issue addressed legislatively.
 
Eglinski took part in the debate on the Transportation Modernization Act in the House of Commons, which aims to amend 13 different acts that impact transportation.
 
During the debate, Eglinski said he wanted to see the legislation address the issue of wait times for CN rail blockages, which has been an ongoing problem in his riding and other communities.
 
"A concern I have that was not addressed in this omnibus bill is the length of trains that are now running in Canada," said MP Eglinski.
 
He explained that the longer trains block rail crossings in communities such as Edson and Whitecourt, leading to safety concerns due to delayed emergency responders.
 
After the session, Eglinski said that CN has been lacking in its response to complaints and has not properly followed up to report the progress that they made.
 
"The issues that I have is the lack of empathy or concern held by CN," Eglinski said.
 
"They never get back to you when you complain."
 
Better regulations on railways are needed to address the issue, Eglinski said, adding that he thinks there are members of Parliament who support the idea.
 
"The regulations that are in place are very old, dated, and we need to address the issues of the super trains that we're seeing today and how those super trains are affecting these public crossings," Eglinski said.
 
Kate Fenske, media relations for CN for Western Canada, said that CN does communicate with the communities it travels through.
 
"CN provides the rail service in support of the local economy and crews continually work to keep trains moving as efficiently as possible and minimize delays to motorists and pedestrians at crossings," Fenske said.
 
Whitecourt Mayor Speaks Positively of Progress with CN
 
The Town of Whitecourt has also sought to address wait times at its rail crossings with CN over the past several years.
 
Whitecourt Mayor Maryann Chichak said that it's been an issue for at least her seven years on council but added that dialogue has made substantial progress in the past six months.
 
"On train blockages... in the last six months have had the most dialogue than we've had in the last seven years," Chichak said.
 
"I'm hopeful we will see some changes."
 
Chichak said CN has been talking with train crews and operators to schedule them at town crossings outside of peak hours.
 
She also noted that members of the public should utilize CN's inquiry line to send a message.
 
"Every time they do call it, a case file is started," Chichak said, adding there is an impact if members of the public are inquiring.
 
However, Chichak also said she is supportive of the idea of more legislation in this area.
 
"If there was something federally legislated that we could fall back on when we go through issues such as blockages on tracks, it would be fantastic," Chichak said.
 
The Town plans to have CN appear before council within the next three to six months for a discussion about rail issues in the community, Chichak said.
 
"We can work with CN as partners as opposed to being adversaries," she said.
 
Joseph Quigley.

Quoted under the provisions in Section 29
of the Canadian Copyright Modernization Act.
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