Safety standards for railway questioned

The railway tragedy in Lac Megantic, Que. that destroyed much of the downtown and killed 47 people could have an impact on the proposal to re-introduce passenger rail service on Vancouver Island.

The issue came up during a presentation by Island Corridor Foundation spokesman Graham Bruce, who spoke as a delegation at Tuesday night's regular Regional District of Nanaimo board meeting.

In a question and answer session following Bruce's presentation, Parksville director Marc Lefebvre noted the Union of B.C. Municipalities had called on the federal government to increase safety standards across the country in light of the Quebec disaster.

"If the federal government responds and it takes time to come up with new guidelines, would this have to be part of the negotiations?" Lefebvre asked. "There may be greater safety requirements that increase costs and increase liability coverage."

Bruce said he didn't think this would be a problem and stressed that while the rail line falls under provincial regulations, those regulations follow Transport Canada standards.

"We got a sign-off to go ahead on this," he said. "I should comment that freight and passenger service have significant differences."

See Tuesday's edition of The NEWS for more on Bruce's presentation to the RDN, and for more from the meeting.

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