Safety Must Become A Priority Now For The Future of Passenger Rail Service in Canada

Safety Must Become A Priority Now For The Future of Passenger Rail Service in Canada

NOTE: I was moved to write this article due to a recent fatality on February 8th, 2018 at an unguarded level crossing at Breslau ON. The incident involved a VIA Rail train. Five years previously there was another fatality at the same crossing, also with a VIA Rail train.

When a fatality occurs involving passenger trains many people are affected. These include: the deceased person(s), their friends and families, the train crew and passengers, first responders, and even the general public.

The reality is that human error is usually one of the main contributing factors to fatalities that involve passenger trains.

Our neighbours in the United States have experienced recent tragedies involving fatalities on Amtrak and Brightline Florida passenger rail services. These incidents highlight the need for changes.

In Ontario, the situation is much the same with a shocking number of preventable passenger rail related accidents. Below is a list of fatalities involving VIA Rail in 2017. This list does not include GO Train related fatalities.

  • November 23, 2017 - Cobourg
  • September 19, 2017 - Woodstock
  • July 15, 2017 - St. Mary's
  • July 3, 2017 - South Glengarry
  • June 25, 2017 - Toronto
  • May 19, 2017 - Toronto
  • February 25, 2017 - Whitby
  • January. 19, 2017 - Tecumseh

Add in the previous  multiple fatality accidents - September 18, 2013 - Ottawa Bus/VIA Rail, and February 27, 2012 - VIA Rail Burlington - and it obvious that solutions need to be implemented to prevent these from happening again.

Is your workplace inspection checklist a shopping list?

Is your workplace inspection checklist a shopping list?

Questions must be specific, measurable, realistic

COSH magazine June, 2017 by Paul Langan - 

Throughout my career in health and safety I have promoted the idea of not necessarily adding new elements to your safety program but doing the existing elements effectively.

Workplace inspections are an essential, proactive part of an overall safety program that has been in place for decades. 

Have you audited the effectiveness of your workplace inspection procedures (WPIs)? Do you have an audit tool that could measure WPI effectiveness? What critical points should be on the audit checklist?

Perhaps the biggest flaw in workplace inspection procedures is that the procedure does not clearly state the parameters of the inspection. Are you looking to measure compliance to safe work conditions, safe work practices or training requirements?

Most workplace inspection procedures do not differentiate between questions that should be on the checklist and questions that should be on bigger system audits. Questions relating to training should be left to bigger health and safety program audits.

Once the employer — in co-operation with the health and safety committee — has determined what the inspections are measuring, the next step is to identify the hazards and controls.

We know how important the preparation stage is in ensuring the quality of the WPI process.

High Speed Rail - A Definition In Crisis

High Speed Rail - A Definition In Crisis

I am growing weary of news reports talking about high speed trains when in reality the speed of these trains are not true high speed.

According to Wikipedia, there is no single standard that applies worldwide, new lines in excess of 250 kilometres per hour (160 miles per hour) and existing lines in excess of 200 kilometres per hour (120 miles per hour) are widely considered to be high-speed, with some extending the definition to include lower speeds in areas for which these speeds still represent significant improvements.

There is general agreement with the definition that 250 km/h on new lines and 200 km/h on existing track would constitute high speed rail. In reality many new high speed lines travel over 300 km/h.
It is the last part of the Wikipedia paragraph where the definition of high speed rail gets abused. This is especially true in North America where our passenger trains run at speeds, that  in many cases, are over a half a century behind train speeds in  the rest of the world.

Previously, USA President Obama provided funding through the Department of  Transportation for the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program to modernize the current state of passenger rail in the USA. The term high speed rail became very ambiguous and is used time and time again incorrectly in the media.

A typical example of this misuse of the terminology is the Empire Corridor High Speed Rail Program for improved passenger rail service from New York to Niagara Falls. Even with the most expensive improvements to the line would it rarely meet true high speeds.

In Canada we have to give VIA Rail Inc. some credit. They have clearly stated their opposition to high speed rail. They have even gone so far to make up a new term High-Frequency-Rail to describe their slow trains travelling more frequently idea  between Toronto and Ottawa.

In the future when you read an article talking about high speed rail,  evaluate the article to see if it is really high speed rail they are talking about.

I Remember - Herbert Stitt Book Free Download

I Remember - Herbert Stitt Book

Herbert Stitt was a worker with the Canadian Pacific Railway for 47 years. (October 1915 - September 1962) This small autobiography has been out of print since 1985. It captures the golden age of the Canadian railroads. It is an exceptional book.

I was able to find representatives of the former McBain Publishing Company who originally published the book to get permission to allow for it be given out for free as a PDF download.

I want to thank Chad McBain and Cherie Finucan for helping me bring this book to you. Here is a LINK to the free download. Enjoy reading this as much as I have over the years.

Piso’s Cure for Consumption - tuberculosis

Piso's Cure for Consumption - Hazelton Co.

Piso's Cure for Consumption.

We were removing our cistern from the basement and we found a couple interesting bottles. This one is well known in the medical fraud world. Here is a summary of stuff I found on the internet about Piso's Cure for Consumption.

 According to the January 2007 edition of “The Potomac Pontil,” a newsletter published by the Potomac Bottle Collectors, Ezra T. Hazeltine arrived in the northwest Pennsylvania town of Warren, on the Allegheny River, in 1860.  He began selling homemade medications and in 1864, with the help of a local doctor, created “Piso’s Cure for Consumption” (tuberculosis).  In 1869, he founded the Piso Company to market his concoction on a national level.

Piso’s Cure contained at various times opium, morphine, hashish, marijuana, chloroform and alcohol.   The medical profession considered its claim as a “cure” to be fraudulent, but not surprisingly, it became one of America’s best-selling patent drugs.

Samual Adams takes on Piso's "Cure"

Things went south for the Hazelton Company and Piso's Cure when Samual Adams in 1907 did an article titled, The Great American Fraud - Articles on the Nostrum Evil and Quacks, which exposed the Piso'c Cure for the fraud it was. Here is a LINK to read that article. The resulting legislation and regulation of the industry resulting in the change of name of Piso's Cure and removal of many of its toxic ingredients.

For further reading, here is an excellent article on the history of the company.

Typewriters are Extinct and so Should Funding to the Cambridge Visitors Centre

I was surprised to read in the Cambridge Times that according Councillor Wolf taxpayers of Cambridge pay $265,400 to the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce to run the Cambridge Visitor Information Centre.

In these modern times there is no need for the City to be paying for something that has been replaced by phones, internet, apps, google. Even seniors have embraced modern technology.

I have never met anyone that has stopped at the Cambridge Visitors Centre. I have been past that centre numerous times over the years and have never seen anyone in the parking lot.

We don't buy typerwriters anymore and we sure shouldn't be spending $265,400. on this outdated way of telling people about Cambridge.

When I inquired at City Hall I was told there was no breakdown of how this money is being spent by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. This is simply not acceptable practice to handout that much money and not receive an itemized list of where the money went.

It is my opinion that this funding should be eliminated from the city budget.