Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Getting things back on the track

Weather woes plagued the Fairview Container Terminal over the weekend as the heavy snowfall combined with a derailment near the BC Ferries Terminal resulted in all sorts of trouble for Maher Terminals.

The derailment which took place in the early hours of Saturday morning required the assistance of machinery from Doug's Crane, a situation hampered by the heavy snow and the need to remove it from the Broadwater yard before even the cranes could move out.

The perfect storm of events of sorts, resulted in extra shifts at the Terminal to try and clear the backlog of containers, while work was slow and hampered by the conditions at the Ferry terminal.

The Daily News featured the background on the derailment as the front page headline story in Monday's paper.

Deep snow compounds tricky operation after container cars jump the rails near terminal
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Monday, January 05, 2009

Pages one and two

A minor train derailment took place near the Alaska and BC Ferry terminals in Prince Rupert at 2 a.m. on Jan. 3, causing eight cars - all carrying containers - to derail.

All the cars remained upright but it took crews almost 24 hours to restore operations.
The cause of the derailment is under investigation, said Kelli Svendsen, media spokesperson for CN from Vancouver this morning.

"Maher crew was operating the train so we assisted Maher with rerailing the platform and together with Maher we're investigating the cause of the derailment," Svendsen said.
The derailment resulted in a marathon work bee by local snow removal companies, tow truck operators, CN, Maher Terminals, truck drivers and crane operators.

Work conditions were made difficult due to the high accumulation of snow at the ferry terminals.
Once it was light, residents from nearby Dodge Cove across the harbour, who park vehicles near the ferry terminal, started arriving to move their vehicles because they were parked near the derailment site.

Several cars had to be towed from the site to give work crews access.

Doug Mackereth of Broadwater Industries Ltd. received a phone call shortly after the derailment asking if he could bring a couple of cranes to the site.

"It took us five hours to clear the two and half feet of snow in our yard so we could get the equipment out," Mackereth said.

When asked why Maher Terminals couldn't bring in one of its cranes an insider said the crane couldn't make it up the hill out of the container port or around the corner where the kiosk is located.

Broadwater arrived at the site around noon and soon after local flatbed truck operators arrived, ready to transport containers back to the port if needed.

By 4:30 p.m. the first and only container was removed by Broadwater's two cranes (see photo) and from there workers were able to put the car back on the rails and then pull the rest of the cars by train engines, back to the container port, Mackereth said.

Crews then worked to rerail the damaged portion of the rail line, finishing by 1 a.m.

The working conditions weren't ideal and extreme weather continues to have many other serious impacts on the Prince Rupert area including a power outage, disruption at the airport and some cell phone service problems and the closure of Highway 16 from Agate Creek to Terrace due to high avalanche hazards. See Tuesday's Daily News for more details on the impact of the extreme weather.

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