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CP Rail issues statement as councillors raise questions about London’s flame train | CBC News



A week after a freight train rolled into central London pulling five open rail cars engulfed in flames, some residents and city councillors are asking for more information from railway company Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC).

No one was hurt after wooden railway ties being hauled inside five rail cars caught fire and the train eventually came to a stop near Richmond and Pall Mall streets, a residential area, at around 10:49 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 21. 

Images and video of the incident posted on social media show the eastbound train with flames shooting above the sides of the open rail cars as the train crossed the bridge on Oxford Street. London firefighters were able to extinguish the fire. The cars were uncoupled from the rest of the train, which continued to the Quebec Street yard. 

So far, CPKC has refused to answer questions about when and how the blaze started and when the train crew was alerted to the fire.

Coun. Corrine Rahman rose in a city council meeting last week to ask city staff how much information is being shared between CPKC, city staff and emergency services about what happened.

 “I would like to have information from CPKC and a better understanding of what happened,” she told CBC News. “I’m still hopeful that will come.”

City councillor calls for full investigation into train fire

London city councillor Corrine Rahman is pushing for answers one week after a Canadian Pacific freight train rolled into the city’s core towing five flaming cars.

In response to Rahman’s questions John Paradis, the deputy city manager of enterprise supports, said the city is planning a debrief with the railway company.

CPKC issued a statement early Monday to CBC News. The company said they’ve been in contact with city officials since the incident and that the cause of the fire “remains under investigation.” 

The statement also said stopping the train at the rail crossing allowed emergency crews to access the burning cars and “fire suppression infrastructure. “

“Fire officials have praised the train crew’s actions and the effectiveness of the information shared between the crew and emergency officials, all of which contributed to the fire being effectively responded to while protecting public safety,” the company’s statement said.  

Rahman said there’s still more she’d like to know and would have preferred to have CPKC provide more information in the hours after the fire. The railway issued a statement a day after the fire expressing thanks to London’s firefighters. 

“My hope is that there are some learnings that come out of this,” said Rahman. “It’s also just a broader reminder to us that there are these potential opportunities for these types of incidents to happen in our community.”

‘A safety concern for sure’

Chris Bowden, who lives about a block from the railway line near the corner of Colborne and Piccadilly streets said he has questions for CPKC. 

“I think too many Londoners think of the trains as just an inconvenience,” he said, pointing out that trains carry fuel and chemicals including hazardous materials. “But there’s a safety concern for sure.”

Fire crews respond to flaming railway cars in London, Ont.

Multiple fire crews responded late Sunday night in London, Ont., as freight cars burned on railway tracks in the area of Richmond Street and Pall Mall Street.

Bowden would like to see a cost estimate on a possible twinning of the CPKC rail line with the Canadian National line, which runs along the southern edge of London’s downtown core. He said it would move rail traffic away from homes and could mean the removal of the Quebec Street yard. 

Coun. Steven Hillier said for now, he’s focused on getting answers from the railway company about how the fire started, and why the train came into central London while it was on fire. 

A key question for Hillier is where the fire started. He’s also pushed in the past to have CPKC’s Quebec Street yard relocated. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing the report about this,” he said. 

So far the Transportation Safety Board hasn’t confirmed there will be an investigation into the incident, but have said they are “gathering information” about what happened.

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