LAC-MEGANTIC, Que. – Trains are rolling through Lac-Megantic, Que. for the first time since last summer’s deadly rail disaster.
Rail service resumed Wednesday in the town where a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in July — killing 47 people.
The crash also destroyed part of Lac-Megantic’s downtown core.
Many locals are still trying to cope with the disaster and have mixed feelings about the train’s return to the railway-dependent community.
Businesses along the railroad say the service is vital for the town economy.
The first train arrived at the Tafisa Canada plant in the town’s industrial park to pick up a load of particle board. While it was there, tests were carried out to ensure signals were functioning properly on its route out, which took it through the centre of the town.
The train headed to nearby Sherbrooke after leaving the Tafisa factory.
The gradual return of freight trains to Lac-Megantic must follow strict rules and conditions.
For now, no dangerous substances will be transported through the town, which is about 250 kilometres east of Montreal.
The track is still owned by Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway — the company at the heart of the disaster.
The insolvent railway is expected to be sold in the coming weeks.
A judge in Bangor, Me., approved bidding procedures Wednesday for the auction of Maine-based Montreal, Maine & Atlantic.
Trustee Robert Keach said the aim is to sell the railroad’s Canadian and Maine operations to allow it to continue operating.
Transport Canada has placed several conditions on the operator before the trains returned to Lac-Megantic, including the obligation for trains to slow down and make full stops at certain crossings.
In some cases, locomotive employees will have to get out and check the crossing manually to make sure everything is safe and secure.
The speed limit will be 16 km/h on certain parts of the track.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013