CALGARY – Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. CEO Hunter Harrison says the “all-mighty dollar” is holding up badly needed changes to rail safety.
In a passionate speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the plain-spoken, Memphis-born railroad veteran says the time for study is over — it’s time to get older tank cars off of North American tracks immediately.
The ubiquitous DOT-111 cars, built before 2011, have been long criticized for having hulls that are too weak to withstand a crash, but there are quarrels over who ought to pay for replacing or retrofitting them.
It was those types of railcars that were involved in a train wreck that set off an inferno in downtown Lac Megantic last summer, claiming 47 lives.
Harrison says railways have no say over what sorts of goods it hauls along their networks, or in what types of vessels — and to turn away cargo would be against the law.
On Monday, New Brunswick-based Irving Oil said it’s converting all of its own rail cars at its Saint John refinery to stronger standards by April 30 and will ask that its suppliers do the same by year end — a move that Harrison lauded.