News Views: Whistle-stop

CP Rail wants to build an underpass and two overpasses along the tracks in Pitt Meadows to increase the flow of goods. (THE NEWS/files)

For anyone who doesn’t already know, there was a big fire at the CP Rail train yard next door in Port Coquitlam Monday night.

A semi-trailer truck carrying ethanol – an alcohol fuel that’s distilled from plant materials, such as corn and sugar – collided with a train, shooting up flames that served as a camp fire for surrounding cities.

We don’t know for certain how the collision occurred, although the City of Port Coquitlam initially said the truck hit the train.

CP Rail hasn’t explained what happened yet.

But it needs to.

No one was injured in the collision or fire, not even the truck driver, although an 800-metre radius around the rail yard, along Lougheed Highway near Shaughnessy Avenue and Oxford Street, had to be evacuated.

The highway had to be shut down.

Residents were warned to stay inside their homes and avoid the area.

Emergency crews from neighbouring communities were put on standby.

Those are pretty significant events, rekindling thoughts of the Lac-Mégantic, Que. tragedy in July 2013. A train carrying 72 cars of crude oil derailed and exploded in the centre of that town, killing 47 people.

CP then assured cities like Pitt Meadows, home to a 20-hectare intermodal yard, that all was good, their residents need not worry about their own safety, that there are ample emergency measures in place to prevent a deadly disaster.

Some might question that now, especially since CP Rail wants to build an underpass and two overpasses along the tracks in Pitt Meadows to increase the flow of goods.

Among those, CP ships ethanol across North America.

We’re not sure what’s all in the Pitt Meadows intermodal yard containers, or what’s rolling along the tracks. But surely residents will be asking when CP hosts a town hall meeting here in March, among other things.

–Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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