AMT train hits car in Terrasse-Vaudreuil
PHOTO COURTESY VILLE DE TERRASSEVAUDREUIL
Nobody was injured in the October 16 event that saw a vehicle stopped between the two sets of tracks hit by a high-speed passenger train at the level crossing in Terrasse-Vaudreuil.
Town officials are calling on the government to make the notoriously dangerous crossing safer.
On Thursday, October 16 around 6:30 p.m. a Terrasse-Vaudreuil resident crossing over the tracks at 3rd Avenue found herself caught between the two sets of tracks when the flashing warning lights came on and the safety barriers descended as another train approached. Though she was able to exit the car and get to a safe spot, the train rear-ended her vehicle as it went by at a speed of 90 km/hr. The motorist was on the level crossing when the flashing lights were switched on announcing the eminent approach of a train.
Panicked, the woman reportedly made a rash move and left her car on the railroad tracks. Fortunately, the driver was able to quickly get out of her vehicle and to safety before the train struck the rear of the car at a speed 90 km / h.
“We were lucky this time,” said Terrasse-Vaudreuil Mayor Michel Bourdeau. “The woman panicked and could have stayed in her vehicle. Also, if the car was hit by a freight train, the accident could have resulted in a derailment. Terrasse-Vaudreuil has just under 2,000 residents, and over an area of approximately 1.5 square kilometers. The area along the railway is so densely populated. A train derailment would simply disastrous for the people of Terrasse-Vaudreuil.”
The level crossing was closed for a few hours with traffic redirected to the level crossing in Île Perrot Nord. “As you know, the Municipality of Terrasse-Vaudreuil is enclosed by two level crossings and the Lake of Two Mountains,” said Bourdeau. “When a level crossing is obstructed, our population is in a delicate situation. If (emergency) services are urgently needed in our area, response times are longer. Moreover, given the length of today’s trains, it may happen that a stopped train is long enough to block both entrances to the municipality.”
Rail traffic has doubled in recent years and automobile traffic has also increased. “Public transit is gaining in popularity every day. The Terrasse-Vaudreuil commuter station serves not only our residents, but also those of Pincourt, the nearest town. The parking lot is packed and buses are plying their way throughout the day. The level crossing at 3rd Avenue is busy and the risk of accidents increases constantly.” The Council of Terrasse-Vaudreuil has tried repeatedly to emphasize the urgency of the construction of an overpass at this level crossing.
The Department of Transport (MTQ), however, says it does not intend to move forward with this project, preferring to wait for the completion of Highway 20, a major undertaking that is not scheduled to be on the MTQ agenda for years to come. “We explained (the consequences of) inaction to the MTQ. There are some years, delegates from the same ministry, accompanied by representatives of Transport Canada, met the existing council at the time. We were told Terrasse-Vaudreuil has one of the most dangerous level crossings in Quebec.
The risk of our municipality (being inaccessible during a train incident) also concerned the highest office of both levels of government,” said Bourdeau. In order to solve this problem, the MTQ had decided to install traffic lights at the level crossing of 3rd Avenue. The lights were initially set up in 2012 but remain inactive to date. However, members of the Council of Terrasse-Vaudreuil do not consider this action as a solution. “If the lights are put into service, they will have the effect of increasing the waiting time at the level crossing,” said Bourdeau.
“Motorists have finite patience. They often have to wait ten minutes before crossing when several trains come and go, and this is not uncommon. They will take more and more risks at this already-dangerous level crossing. The train accident Dorion 1966 affected the people here. Twenty-one young people died; everyone remembers the school bus that was hit by a train. Will we have to wait for such an event happen in Terrasse-audreuil before finally having our underpass? The necessary expropriations needed to build such an infrastructure have already been made. The next step is to move forward.”