Time for railway control arms

In 2018 and 2019, there have been four collisions between semi-trucks and CPR trains between Dafoe and Yorkton City. Two of these collisions were in the Foam Lake/Wynyard area at uncontrolled railway crossings, one resulting in a fatality. The other two collisions occurred in Yorkton on Highway 9 near King Street at what is considered a controlled crossing with flashing red lights when train approaches.

With the recent collisions between trains/semi-trucks in the area, we ask ourselves why? Do the drivers need additional safety and awareness training? The trucking industry needs to address this issue. Focus on the safety of railway crossing on Highway 9 also needs to be addressed.

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The recent July 25th accident between the Co-op Petroleum truck and the CPR train, begs the question as to why a driver trained in hauling dangerous goods in the operation of a semi-truck, would cross the track while the red lights are flashing and the train horn is blowing.

According to Fire Chief Trevor Morrissey, approximately 20,000 litres of diesel fuel leaked onto the ground on both sides of the track and the train itself. Had the Co-op truck been full of gasoline rather than diesel, a very serious explosion would likely have occurred resulting in fatalities.

Diesel fuel is not very volatile and harder to ignite. In contrast, gasoline is much more volatile and ignites rather easily. Add to this potential that the train could have been hauling hazardous chemicals and other explosive substances, it would be an understatement to say that Yorkton City would have had a major disaster on their hands.

The traffic volume at Highway 9 crossing has increased significantly over the past several years with the construction of the two Canola plants surrounding Yorkton and other traffic in general. This only adds to the potential danger of accidents at this location and the urgency for additional safety measures.

Two semi-truck collisions with trains at this location in two years cannot be accepted as status quo. Something has to change! Why did two semi-trucks cross the tracks when red lights were flashing “because they could”. There was nothing to impede their forward progress. If railroad crossing arms would have been in place, the two semi-trucks and train collisions would not have happened.

The City of Yorkton, the CPR and other respective agencies, need to have the safety of Highway 9 railway crossing upgraded by the installation of railway crossing arms.

—Don Lemond, Yorkton, SK

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