State officials query Maine railroads on preventing runaway trains

Gov. Paul LePage announced Wednesday that state officials are seeking to prevent another runaway train like that which devastated a Quebec town by questioning five state rail haulers to see how they keep parked trains stationary,
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Gov. Paul LePage announced Wednesday that state officials are seeking to prevent another runaway train like that which devastated a Quebec town by questioning five state rail haulers to see how they keep parked trains stationary, Buy Photo
By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff
Posted July 17, 2013, at 5:50 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — State officials seeking to prevent another runaway train like that which devastated a Quebec town have queried five state rail haulers to see how they keep parked trains stationary, Gov. Paul LePage announced Wednesday.

Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt sent the letter as a first step toward having Maine railroad companies voluntarily set best-practice standards to keep the Lac-Megantic disaster from recurring, said Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s spokeswoman.

Specifically, Bernhardt asked the freight rail operators in Maine to submit existing or proposed policies or practices that relate to securing parked trains including, but not limited to, parking locations, setting of hand brakes, monitoring of trains, timing of crew changes and security.

“While the investigation continues into the cause of the derailment, I want to do everything we can to ensure the safety standards of Maine’s rail system,” LePage said in a statement released Wednesday. “Maine people expect that a key part of our infrastructure has the proper oversight and transparency.”

The five freight rail operators in Maine are:

— Eastern Maine Railway-Northern Maine Railway

— Maine Eastern Railroad

— Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway

— Pan Am Railways

— St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad

Bernhardt requested the information requested in the letter be submitted to MaineDOT by July 31.

The runaway train derailed in the small Quebec town on July 6, igniting several tanker cars carrying crude oil. Thirty-seven bodies have been recovered from the explosion site in the center of the town. Fifteen are missing and likely dead, Canadian officials said.

Watch bangordailynews.com for updates

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/07/17/news/state/state-officials-query-maine-railroads-on-preventing-runaway-trains/ printed on September 16, 2014