Rail service resumes in Lac-Megantic
Published Wednesday, December 18, 2013 5:50PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 18, 2013 11:19PM EST
Rail service in Lac-Megantic resumed on Wednesday, five months after a runaway train loaded with crude oil exploded in the centre of the small town, killing 47 people.
The first train arrived at the Tafisa Canada plant in the town’s industrial parkWednesday afternoon to pick up a load of particle board, before heading to nearby Sherbrooke, Que.
A series of restrictions will accompany freight trains as they gradually roll into Lac-Meganticin the coming months. The trains will only operate during the day and will only carry dry goods -- no oil, liquids or gases of any kind. The trains will also be limited to travelling at 16 kilometres per hour through the small municipality, located about 250 kilometres east of Montreal.
While some citizens have mixed feelings about the return of rail service, Lac-MeganticMayor Collette Roy-Laroche said she was pleased to see the return of train service in the rail-dependent community.
“We had a catastrophe, a veritable catastrophe, a huge catastrophe, which devastated our local and regional economy," said the mayor in a news conference. "The return of train service, as I mentioned, is an important element to ensure that our economic crisis is not aggravated by an extended absence of shipping services.”
Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, which operated the train that derailed last July, still owns the track. But the company, which sought bankruptcy protection after the derailment, is expected to be sold in the coming weeks.
The first trains will only run between Lac-Megantic and Montreal, and will be closely scrutinized by Transport Canada.
Service is expected to resume to the United States once a new agreement with a new owner of MM&A is negotiated.