A column published in the Toronto Star this weekend arguing that the rail industry shouldn’t be held responsible for the Lac-Mégantic derailment disaster – and that supposed government favoritism of trucking is somehow to blame – was blasted by CTA President David Bradley in a letter to the editor response.
The article by transportation writer and railway company “policy advisor” Greg Gormick is a full-fledged rhetorical apologia for the rail industry. Gormick stated the government of Quebec is “charging the wrong parties” for negligence in last July’s explosion. He says blame should instead be reserved for federal and provincial transportation policies and public spending decisions, particularly for “lavish” funding of the trucking industry at the expense of the rail industry, which, he incredulously argues, can no longer afford (nor can companies be expected to) maintain transportation safety standards.
“Under these conditions, should anyone be surprised if some railways — especially smaller, less profitable short lines — wind up cutting corners to the point of negatively affecting safety,” he writes.
Ignoring record-high rail profits and capacity tightness due to shifts away from agriculture toward higher-paying oil transportation, Gormick claims the rail industry is being “starved” by government support of competing modes and therefore — unlike other sectors operating in highly competitive marketplaces — rail is not responsible for coming up short on safety compliance: “Charging railway workers for systemic safety problems and passing punitive legislation commanding that railways perform better when they don’t have the resources to do so is just counter-productive political grandstanding and buck passing.”
In a scathing response, CTA President David Bradley submitted the following letter to the editor of The Star:
[textbox padding=”20″]“How ludicrous of Greg Gormick (Wrong Parties charged in Lac Megantic disaster, May 18, 2014) to allege that it is not the rail sector but the trucking industry and public investment of the highways that are to blame for the tragedy. He excuses “cutting corners to the point of negatively affecting safety” as an understandable and natural response to competition from other modes that can only be solved by asking the Canadian taxpayer to subsidize increased railway profits. Such arrogance, which unfortunately is typical of certain railway apologists who pine for the century of corporate welfare bestowed on the rail sector, is a pathetic attempt to distract from identifying and holding to account those responsible for the Lac Megantic and other tragedies.”[/textbox]
Tell the Toronto Star what you think of the article here.