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Village Files Petition to Make CN Trains Safer

Barrington, along with TRAC, has asked for Canadian National Railway to make safety improvements to its tank cars.

along with The Regional Answer to Canadian National, (TRAC), has filed a petition to make Canadian National (CN) trains safer as they pass through town.

The petition stems from problems found surrounding a CN freight train derailment in Rockford in 2009. The train derailed, spilling ethanol from several tank cars, causing a massive fire that killed one woman and injured several others.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation after the accident revealed that the tank cars carrying the ethanol have a known problem causing them to malfunction if there is a derailment. There is currently a rule in place requiring all new tank cars be outfitted without this defect, but the existing cars do are not required to be fixed.

“Our rule making petition is asking the agency to consider as part of its rule making, this amendment asking that all existing tank cars be retrofitted if they are going to carry ethanol,” Village President Karen Darch said. “Ethanol is carried currently on many freight trains, and there will be many more. There will be a lot of ethanol carried in the future,” she said.

The second part of the petition asks for CN trains to have the ability to get real time electronic information to first responders in an emergency situation.

Currently, the information about what type of materials the train is carrying is only in hard copy and is in the hands of the engineers. If an emergency occurs, it could be difficult for first responders to get that information quickly.

“In Rockford, the engineers were in one place and they couldn’t get to the emergency responders because of a fire inbetween, so it was a couple of hours before anyone could actually look at what the train was carrying, or how many ethanol cars there were,” Darch said. “The NTSB cited as they made its report how crazy it seems this day in age to not have an electronic means to immediately get that information to emergency responders in the event of a derailment or accident.”

Darch said the petition has been filed, but it’s unknown when the village will get a response. 

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