Forty-seven chimes rang today at Sainte-Agnès de Lac-Mégantic church to honor lives lost but not forgotten by a community renowned for their strength and their ability to band together in the face of tragedy. Yet, they are now met with a threat determined to tear them apart as a plan to expropriate land in an effort to reroute the rail line rubs salt in a wound not healed.
Representatives from Railroad Workers United attended Lac-Mégantic’s 10th Anniversary Memorial March to encourage residents that they’re not alone. Canadian railroads are American railroads, their safety is our safety, and their struggle is also ours.
“No train derailment in our railroading history showcases the systemic failure of private railroad industry more comprehensively than the tragedy of Lac-Mégantic when a runaway train disaster sparked a series of events revealing an abyss of corporate greed, regulatory capture, disregard for human life, and scapegoating embedded in daily private corporate operations,” confirms Fritz Edler, RWU Special Representative, Washington D.C.
Lac-Mégantic’s Citizens’ Coalition for Railroad Safety member Gilbert Carette recalls, “Years before July 6, 2013, residents reported the industry for rolling poorly maintained, longer and heavier convoys carrying more crude oil, propane, and other chemicals on worn-out rails.” He cites a conflict of interest when, “security inspections are made by the companies themselves and are approved by their own authorities.”
Rail and trackside communities must remain vigilant in their efforts to advocate for railroad safety. Today, railroad conditions have not improved; in fact, they’re worse. Trains are longer, heavier, and travel more frequently on turn of the century infrastructure using braking systems developed in the 1800s.
RWU members express our deepest condolences for the families who continue to suffer the consequences of a catastrophe that was one-hundred percent preventable. Today, we remember our fallen 47 Canadian brothers and sisters, and we support those in Lac-Megantic who continue in their struggle today.