Train breakdown brings multiple agencies together


Having your town bisected by a disabled train may be a rare occurrence, but when the unlikely scenario became a reality, the joint emergency services of Alberton, Chapple, Emo and LaVallee were up for the challenge.

On Sunday, November 28, a train experienced a mechanical failure in Emo, cutting the township in two, blocking crossings from 7:30-10:05 p.m. According to CN’s Manager of Public Affairs Daniel Salvatore, the mechanical failure resulted in the train’s brake system activating. CN crews immediately began efforts to recover the train, and notified local first responders, Mayor Harold McQuaker and ACEL Joint Fire Chief Tyrell Griffith.

According to Griffith, the incident required a co-ordinated effort between the municipality, CN and emergency services. Through working together over the years, both in real life events, and a large scale training session in October, emergency services and CN were able to create a plan to keep residents safe in the event of an emergency.

“During the duration of the crossings being blocked, Emo Fire had direct communication with the Emo Mayor, CN, OPP and Kenora CACC (ambulance and fire dispatch). Fire team members were on both sides of the tracks with a plan in place should there have been a need for Fire or Rescue response,” said Griffith. “Given the timelines that were being provided to us from CN for this incident, Emo Fire had plans in place, also involving LaVallee Fire, but did not mobilize our volunteer crews.”

He noted that if a similar event takes place in the future, the public may see crews placed on standby, depending on the duration of the incident.

“As with any event, communication is critical,” he said. “I feel all agencies did a good job relaying information to each other while the train sat still.”

CN is pleased to have a good working relationship with first responders across the district. In addition to the table-top and in-person training which took place in fall, CN has provided Emo Fire with two pieces of air monitoring equipment. The agencies are currently organizing another training exercise for January 2022, said Salvatore.

“We would like to apologize to all residents who were impacted by this incident and thank local first responders for their efforts to assist,” he said.