(Resource News International) — The Canadian Pacific (CPR) rail line affected in Monday’s train collision 12 miles south of Weyburn, Sask., is expected to return to operation as soon as the end of the day, according to Mike LoVecchio, CPR’s senior manager of media relations.
“Now that we’re moving to the assessment and retrieval stage, we’re optimistic that we’re going to have the line operating perhaps as soon as today,” he said.
The resulting damage to the track bed, he explained, was relatively minor and repairs are currently underway, with the necessary equipment having been moved to the site as soon as the safety of the workers was no longer believed to be at risk.
The affected route is CPR’s main line into the U.S. from Western Canada, LoVecchio said, crossing the border at the community of Portal, N.D.
The collision early on April 7 occurred when a southbound train made contact with a second, stationary train. A third train, on a siding, was also struck in the incident. The collision eventually caused a number of cars to ignite, starting a fire which was only extinguished Tuesday morning at 3 a.m.
Many toxic products reported to have been on board at the time of the accident, such as vinyl acetate, had in fact been unloaded previously, LoVecchio said. For the most part, he said, the fire affected cars filled with plastic pellets.
As a safety precaution, however, six households in the area were evacuated shortly after the accident took place, while nearby Highway 39, which connects Weyburn and Estevan, was also closed. The families were able to return home Tuesday at 9:30 a.m, with traffic resuming on the highway at that time.
An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the collision, LoVecchio said. He declined to comment on speculation by various media outlets that operator error caused the accident. Rather, he said speculating as to the cause of the accident at this point would be premature. He also said it is difficult to say when the investigation will be wrapped up.