Canada Says It Regularly Audited Montreal, Maine Railway

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd., which is at the center of Canada’s worst rail accident in 27 years, had undergone “regular” inspections, according to an official from Transport Canada.

“We had been doing regular inspections and audits of this particular company,” Gerard McDonald, assistant deputy minister for safety and security at the department responsible for rail regulation, told reporters today in Ottawa.

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board is investigating how an unmanned train carrying 72 carloads of crude operated by the Railway crashed early Saturday near the center of Lac-Megantic, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of Montreal. About 50 people are either missing or confirmed dead, police said.

Over the past year, regulators have inspected 514 miles of the company’s tracks, 37 crossings and 20 locomotives, Luc Bourdon, director general for rail safety at Transport Canada, said at the same briefing. The company is inspected “the same as any other company,” he said.

The cars of the train were inspected on Friday when it came into Montreal from North Dakota and no defects were found, Bourdon said, adding while it was “rare” to have a locomotive unattended on the mainline, the practice didn’t violate rules.

Edward Burkhardt, the chairman of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, said in an interview today the carrier will stop leaving locomotives unattended overnight.

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