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Skeena Bulkley MP Bachrach welcomes release of rail safety report

Report voices frustrations felt in Northwest B.C. with increased rail traffic
A rail safety report speaking to frustrations felt in the Northwest was released on June 2 and welcomed by Skeena Bulkley MP Taylor Bachrach. (Photo: Kaitlyn Bailey/The Northern View)

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach hopes a report released to the House of Commons June 2 will help hold the big railway companies accountable for safety.

The report voices the frustrations felt by residents and leaders in northwest B.C. with railway companies that ship increasing volumes of traffic through their communities, such as Prince Rupert and Port Edward, as well as detailing concerns with conditions and safety standards for rail line workers.

The document submitted to the federal government outlines suggestions to address rail workers’ fatigue, conduct more unannounced inspections and expand the information rail companies have to provide to community emergency services.

Bachrach, NDP transportation critic and member of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, welcomed the report. It marks the culmination of Parliamentary hearings launched by the MP in June 2021 and features testimony from numerous witnesses in northwest B.C.

“The committee heard testimony from witness after witness who felt powerless and ignored when trying to hold the big rail companies accountable,” Bachrach said. “We also heard about a hands-off federal approach that has largely left multi-billion-dollar rail companies to regulate themselves through opaque safety management systems.

“That’s having a real impact in northwest BC, and I was proud to bring those voices forward to help draft a report with strong recommendations for the federal government.”

The committee heard statements from the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, the Friends of Morice-Bulkley and Kitselas First Nation in the northwest.

The report provides 33 recommendations.

Bachrach said he hopes the government will now take the committee’s report seriously and commit to implementing its recommendations.

“Today’s Transport Committee report charts a clear path for the federal government to address long-standing gaps in Canada’s approach to rail safety. Sadly, its approach to date has cost lives and endangered communities. Workers and communities in our region deserve a more proactive approach,” he said.

In March, Bachrach criticized the Transportation Safety Board’s findings connected to the fatal derailment in Field, B.C., saying the response came up short.

READ MORE: CN conductor who died on job near Prince Rupert is identified

READ MORE: Government’s ‘hands-off approach’ to rail safety criticized by NDP transportation critic