Partial derailment, lines washed out as B.C. floods snarl rail network


Railroad tracks that carry goods in and out of the busiest port in Canada have been shut down as a result of the record-setting floods in British Columbia, with at least one train partially derailing on a washed-out line.

CN Rail and CP Rail both say their rail networks in B.C.’s Lower Mainland have been impacted by the dramatic flooding, although the extent of the damage is not yet known.

A spokesperson for CN Rail confirmed to CBC News that its network has experienced a number of mudslides and washouts near Yale, B.C., and one of its trains partially derailed in an area of the province that has seen almost 300 millimetres of rain in recent days.

According to CN, the train partially derailed while on a CP-owned stretch of line.

“There were no injuries, fire or spill, or dangerous goods involved,” CN said, adding that it has not yet been able to assess the damage or begin repairs due to conditions.

“CN’s crews are ready to safely tend to the affected sites but await a stabilization of conditions to begin the work. CN will continue to monitor the affected sites and will begin construction efforts once it is deemed safe to do so.”

Impact on ‘life blood of the railroad’

CP confirmed that a portion of one of its lines in the area is out.

“CP is experiencing a track outage north of Hope, B.C., affecting rail service in the region,” the rail carrier told CBC News in an emailed statement.

The province’s transportation ministry shared images on Twitter of other sections of rail line near Lytton, B.C., that appear to have been damaged.

On a conference call with investment analysts on Tuesday morning, CP’s executive vice president John Brooks called that part of Canada’s rail network “the life blood of the railroad.”

“I know the team was active this morning working with our customers to find alternative markets, or directions to send [rail cars],” he said, adding that the company was working to divert some affected traffic toward Portland, Ore.

“It’s too early to tell what the ultimate impacts are [but] they will get that mainline open as soon as we physically can and we’ll be ready … as an operating team to get that freight back moving certainly as quickly as we can.”

The track outages are on a portion of the main rail line that supplies Vancouver’s port. It’s the second time this year that the province’s rail system has been waylaid by natural disasters, as the wildfires around Lytton this summer caused both companies to partially shut their networks temporarily.



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