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Thu September 23 2021

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Town destroyed by runaway train to get new rail bypass

14 May 18 Details have been finalised for the construction of bypass railway designed to prevent a repeat of a disaster that killed 47 people and destroyed much of the Canadian town of Lac-Mégantic five years ago.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the governments of Canada and Quebec have signed an agreement-in-principle for joint funding of the rail bypass project. Federal funding was promised in January (link opens in new tab).

The route has been selected following a feasibility study managed by the municipality of Lac-Mégantic and carried out by Aecom. The federal government has also reached an agreement with the Central Maine & Quebec Railway, the project proponent, which will also own and operate the new rail infrastructure.

The study recommended a 12.8km rail bypass at an estimated cost of CA$133m. The study assessed technical characteristics, social impacts, territorial planning, environmental considerations, grade crossings and culverts. The next phase of the study will clarify the cost for the rail bypass.

The government of Canada said that it will continue to work closely with Lac-Mégantic, the neighbouring municipalities of Frontenac and Nantes, the Government of Quebec, and other stakeholders to complete the project, and support the community as it rebuilds itself.

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“Hope and resilience have come to define the people of Lac-Mégantic,” said Trudeau. “For nearly five years, they have worked incredibly hard to recover and rebuild, and create a better future for their community. Today, we take another step forward. And while we know there are some wounds that can never heal, we sincerely hope this new rail bypass marks a new beginning for the people of Lac-Mégantic.”

The government of Canada will fund 60% of the total cost of the rail bypass project.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada carried out an investigation following the derailment in Lac-Mégantic and published its findings and recommendations to help ensure an accident like this does not happen again. The government of Canada is working to address the recommendations. It said that it has made significant progress and is also continuing to carefully monitor the safety of railway activities and the transportation of all dangerous goods in Canada.

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