I am writing this to you in regards to the train accident which took place on October 31, 2010 in Montreal, at the Turcot. This horrible accident has destroyed five families. Three beautiful children died and two survived ,one being my son,but he will never be the same. All family members and friends are devastated.
I have since come across information that literally brought me to my knees. We wondered how it could be that the engineer did not see FIVE CHILDREN up ahead. How do you miss FIVE CHILDREN ? So as not to sound a horn, hit the brakes, no warning what so ever. Well I got my answer and I am so destroyed over finding this out.
The Via train # 688, was running three hours late, due to a pedestrian death by a %u201CGo Train%u201D in Toronto. Trains in Montreal usually stop running by 12:00 A.M. This unfortunate night, this train also switched tracks because of the pedestrian death in Toronto...putting it on the direct path that FIVE Children were walking. It was going at 65MPH towards the unsuspecting children. Here is the amazing fact...that train according to a witness did not have the front headlight running at full capacity, only the ditch lights located at the bottom of the train, which illuminates a circumference around the base of the train. So I have to think that played a part in why the train did not try to stop or sound a horn..because the train%u2019s lights where "Dimmed" a rail term that would indicate a turning down of the lights but that night the lights were dimmed so far as to be rendered ineffective for both the engineer and the children to react.
That is why the engineer did not see FIVE CHILDREN up ahead. My heart goes out to him as well, I cannot imagine how he feels doing what he is instructed to do, knowing that there could very well be pedestrians up ahead. This is a common practice for trains and I am not opposed to it, because the front lights are very bright and sometimes interfere with glare onto area motorists. The problem I have is that both Via officials and C.N. officials have repeatedly stated ,to many media outlets, described the Turcot as an area with a very high number of trespassers (Men, woman and children). After the accident took place they put visible security persons, but with the passing of time they have cut that back and I imagine as time further passes there will be much less security if any at all. As the officials stated we cannot be everywhere at once. Well, herein lays my dilemma. On one hand you know there are children there, and on the other hand you %u201CDim%u201D the lights for the reflection up on the Hwy 20. Taking away any chance, precious seconds to react for both the victims and the engineer.
So speeding down the track into an area where VIA & CN spokespeople indicated is known for a high number of "Trespassers", 3 hours delayed, on a switched track because of a train fatally in Toronto and running at a very high speed ,the engineer "Dims" the lights so he cannot see anything in this high traffic area where pedestrians "Trespassers%u201C are known to be" their own words%u201D. Oh my God...he did not see our children because he had no light to see up ahead and blindly without warning he struck these children and killed three and destroyed the two surviving children.
This should not happen, if he sounded a horn and tried to stop the train, maybe just maybe the kids would have heard or seen it coming. Vital seconds which could be the difference between life and death were never given to these children, because of the very common practice of turning down the lights "Dimming the Lights by rail terms"
Railways are a good financial way to traverse products and people across our country. I understand the relevance and the need to have them, but safety records must improve and to dim lights in these places of high trespasser volume really indicates a lack of thought on the part of the rail companies. I have lost faith in their ability to make decisions that will maintain a basic level of safety. In all their publicity after this tragic event they never once volunteered the fact, that when train came upon the children the lights were Dimmed, if this is acceptable common practice, why not mention it publicly? I ask you that because they repeatedly said the kids could not hear the train approaching from behind, but what they failed to mention, was that they also could not see the light from the train approaching from behind.
So, because the safety of pedestrians is at stake and obviously we cannot rely on the rail companies to keep the train%u2019s front headlight running through areas known to them for "Trespassers"
I am begging Parliament to add an addendum to Bill C-33 that would make it law for areas such as these where trains "Dim" their lights, to be out fitted with large street lamp solar energy motion detector lights, with enough frequency to light up areas such as where this tragedy occurred. With this type of safety device a train engineer would know if someone was on the tracks up ahead even if he dimmed the train%u2019s headlight. I think we could consider attributing a new law, named after the three boys who died that fateful evening. I have lost all faith in Canada%u2019s Rail when it comes to our children's lives and until you come up against a tragedy like this you cannot understand what it means to find out that the train who hit these beautiful children had dimmed their lights and taken away any chance of survival for our unsuspecting children.
Please I beg of you our Government to not let "One More Child Die%u201D like this or another family be destroyed. Five families are enough!
BillC-33 is about Railway Safety please make it about that, because as I understand we are in line for faster and more frequent trains in our near future.
Please put this is as an amendment to this Bill-C-33 and in every spot know to be a high a "Trespasser" destination and where this practice of Dimming" the lights occurs. Mandate by law that motion detector lights be installed so as to make visible the next child %u201CTrespasser%u201D so that both the victim and the engineer have a chance to react and perhaps change the outcome of this horrific practice.
I thank you for this opportunity to address this very critical issue that will save children and pedestrians from such devasting tragedy in the future.
My dream would be to fence in all rails going through all residential areas, but I am told that will never happen because of costs . I would like to mention that recently a token area was fenced off surrounding the Turcot, but I will stress again the need for lighting as the train%u2019s lights are dimmed, fencing is not addressing this issue. So as a bare minimum please pass the law of these motion detector lights.
I have been told that the %u201CDimming%u201D of the lights on trains is common practice, but I am not sure if it is a law, perhaps better judgment is required to this practice which may have a direct effect on the number of accidents taken place today and tomorrow. Via said that this is common practice but surely shutting down lights on an enormous train going through a known area for pedestrians is not right...How about putting up motion detectors and a shields to stop the light from the train reflecting on the highway instead of shutting the light so that the children and the engineer have NO chance to react to this deadly collision.
I will continue to speak out on this until I see the needed changes take place. The Transportation Safety Board decided not to investigate these deaths.
One final point to make Mr. Speaker , if you would, please mention our Children by name after all they do matter and Via refrains from this practice of addressing Victims by name so as to desensitize the accidents.
The Three Beautiful Teenagers who died were:
I would like thank all of you who bring this to light and realize that there is something innately wrong with this practice and who have the courage to stand up and make a difference to Save 1 Child. These children were so loved and they were working towards becoming amazing contributing adults. They were going to school and working jobs and starting to build their futures. Please let our families realize at the very least, that their deaths bring to light and make a difference for 1 Child and 1 Family. I ask this of you from the deepest part of my heart, one that is broken and needs one good thing to result from this tragedy.
Just to give you a visual of what dimming means watch these most
are via trains, i think 2 are shot from an actual engineer driving the train. In all cases it is clear that dimming is a huge factor in this accident. Again we have someone who saw this that night on that train Via 668. this just shows it it's common to dim the lights and exactly what that means
Taken by a
rail engineer, clearly shows the effect of dimming and the visibilty
look at time 1:29...look at the light
1:53 look at the light on the tracks...can you see 5 kids?
2:10 dimmed again
This is sweet, the train 668 on route to montreal, stops in Brockville this is the 668 train that hit the kids
look at 1:10 i know it is pulling in the station but it clearly shows
you the difference in the head light on the exact train while dimming.
This is a good one via 79 going over a rail crossing dimming lights