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Major Chicago-Area Daily Takes Shot At Canadian National, Rail Safety In General

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Chicago, Illinois – November 18, 2011)

Public relations and public/operational safety staffers at Canadian National Railway and its American-side subsidiaries are in damage control mode this (Friday) morning, Nov. 18, after a scathing editorial from Chicago’s “Southtown Star” newspaper, a major daily covering south Chicago proper as well as its massive south and southwest suburban communities.

“If you take the railroad’s self-promotion at face value, the Canadian National Railway has made major strides at operating more safely,” states the Southtown Star’s editorial, appropriately entitled “Crash Course: Long Way To Go In Rail Safety”.

“But as the freight accident two weeks ago near Elgin points out, only railroads with really lousy safety records can improve as much as CN claims it has. It had a very long way to go, and a flurry of crashes in the past four years suggests it has a ways more to go,” continues the editorial.

“However safer CN becomes as it weaves through the Southland on the old EJ&E trackage it bought, we should never forget a bargain we made as citizens of an industrialized nation. A 1.5-mile-long, 50 mph, 3000-ton missile limited to a single path of steel rails might derail, blow up, spill and create occasional toxic catastrophes in your back yard. At 50 mph under perfect conditions, it takes more than a mile to stop it,” writes the Southtown Star, choosing to employ statistical propaganda espoused by the Federal Railroad Administration and its Operation Lifesaver program puppets.

Continuing its criticism, the editorial states that “Run-of-the-mill derailments such as the one near Elgin occur every two weeks. Train accidents have recurred more frequently every year since 1997, and technology implemented to prevent such crashes has not changed much for 70 years.”

“Except when there are fatalities, it’s hard to characterize derailments as surprising news. The Federal Railroad Administration reports that there are nearly 13,000 railroad-related accidents every year. Once every 115 minutes, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States,” says The Star, again quoting stats frequently used by the railroads and their allies.

The editorial opinion piece arrives at some brilliant observations, as it points out that “Freight railroads are mostly self-regulating until they crush a car or spill deadly chemicals. Then the feds investigate and demand some response that shows the railroad will try not to do it again,” and concludes with “We’d like to tell you the vigilance of the regulators will control these potential catastrophes and make you safer. We could tell you that. But it wouldn’t be true.”


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