Lac-Mégantic rail bypass map

CANADA: The federal government and Canadian Pacific Railway have signed an agreement covering the next steps in the development of the Lac-Mégantic rail bypass, which will enable trains to avoid the Québec town which was devastated when an unattended crude oil train ran away in July 2013. The resulting explosion and fire killed 47 people and destroyed town centre buildings.

The 12·8 km alignment for the bypass has been finalised based on a feasibility study undertaken by AECOM, and negotiations for the acquisition of 80 parcels of land will now get underway. The latest agreement announced on May 28 covers the planning, specification and regulatory processes, as well as soil, water and fish habitat and ambient noise studies.

CP is responsible for designing the bypass plans and specifications and will own the completed line. Transport Canada has appointed engineering firm CIMA+ to provide project monitoring support.

The cost of the bypass is estimated at C$133m, which is to be funded by the federal (60%) and provincial (40%) governments. They have committed to completing the railway in 2023, with the existing line to be decommissioned and the land transferred to the municipalities for public use in in 2024-25.

  • The Canadian government has announced C$21m of Rail Safety Improvement Programme funding for 121 level crossing improvement projects, eight crossing closures and six technology and research projects. ‘Increasing rail safety awareness and improving lighting, signals, level crossings and separating pedestrians from train traffic are critical to saving lives’, said Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, on May 20.