Nous avons rencontré un artiste peintre de Sutton, monsieur Vittorio Canti, qui s’affaire depuis plusieurs années à sensibiliser les citoyens et les autorités aux problèmes liés aux règles entourant les activités ferroviaires dans la région. Il est très fâché, Vittorio !
Laissons-lui la parole.
I live in Sutton, Qc, where, for the past 50 or more years, trains ran through our town only during the hours of the day. In 2008, when Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. began operating at night with one conductor responsible for convoys of thirty and more wagons, the general public was never aware of such a practice because no one could believe that responsible law-makers would allow for such a nonsense. At the time, the only concern was the disturbance caused by the racket that woke up thousand of people in the middle of the night depriving them from the needed rest.
For that reason alone, in May 2009, I initiated a petition and, with my limited means, I knocked on the doors of those living along the corridor from Abercorn to Cowansville and even attempted to obtain signatures in the town of Richford (Vt) – the first urban centre south of the border.
Coincidently, I contacted Mr. Robert Grindrod, president and Chief Executive of MMA, with a polite document that was ignored. A second letter carrying a more salient language was sent on the following month but, while getting a semi-apologetic reply, it failed to address any of our concerns. Once collected, copies of the petition were presented to the municipality of Sutton, as well as the MMA, but they were dismissed as useless nonsense.
Having invested time and resources into what turned out to be a futile exercise, I had no choice but retreat into my corner and listen to the night trains barreling through Sutton at speeds that often exceeded the 50km/hr (a limit for trains crossing urban areas).
In the wake of the Lake Megantic derailment and the endless news reporting of the tragic aftermath through the journalistic rhetoric describing the charred remains and the ‘lunar’ landscape of a devastated town, we are beginning to hear rumours about a coalition of different municipalities asking to monitor the hazardous substances transported by trains through towns cut in two by the railroad tracks.
If such measures can only provide the anticipated knowledge of what could eventually kill us, why we are not hearing about is a proposition to eliminate night trains and lower their speed limit to 30km/hr – a precautionary measure that would minimize the aftermath of an eventual derailment and would lessen the vibrations extending up to 70 meters from the railway tracks. Meanwhile, while standing by for eventual results, the MMA will keep spring vegetation growing between the tracks with agent orange, letting traverse beams to rot, nails to fall off and let a solo engineer run their convoys.
Living with crossed fingers under a Damocles’s sword, we can only ask ourselves why warnings of impending disasters and tragedies are dismissed by those who could do something about it and wonder about the wisdom of those in charge of protecting our lives ?