Decision No. 194-R-2013

May 17, 2013

COMPLAINT by Elzear and Shirley O’Connor and Clarence‑Michael Chaput pursuant to section 95.3 of the Canada Transportation Act, S.C., 1996, c. 10, as amended.

File No.: 
R8030/Q1/10-4 PRO

INTRODUCTION

[1] In Decision No. LET-R-27-2013 dated January 29, 2013 (Show Cause Decision), the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) found that CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) failed to comply with its obligation to only cause such noise as is reasonable within the meaning of section 95.1 of the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) with respect to the idling locomotives, switching operations and the resulting whistling near Lake Street in Huntingdon, Quebec. The Agency also directed CSXT to show cause why the Agency should not order CSXT to:

  1. relocate its interchange to a location other than the Interchange Point or, in the alternative,
  2. strictly adhere to the dispatching procedures set out in CSXT’s pleadings in order to reduce idling time to a maximum of two hours and to set up an idling activity monitoring program, mitigation strategy, and threshold targets based on the World Health Organization (WHO) standards to be submitted to the Agency for review or in the alternative,
  3. modify current operations in Huntingdon by parking idling engines farther away from sensitive receptors and to set up an idling activity monitoring program, mitigation strategy, and threshold targets based on WHO standards to be submitted to the Agency for review, and
  4. cease all switching operations on CSXT’s tracks at the Interchange Point or in the alternative,
  5. only conduct its switching operations exclusively during the day and to set up a switching activity monitoring program, mitigation strategy, and threshold targets based on the WHO standards to be submitted to the Agency for review.

[2] On March 15, 2013, CSXT filed its response to the Show Cause Decision.

CSXT’s proposed mitigative measures

[3] CSXT proposes to construct a new switch at the southern end of the eastern siding located near the Interchange Point, which will allow it to change its operational procedures. CSXT also plans to install a ground air compressor near the new switch to maintain brake pressure which will allow train line continuity.

[4] CSXT proposes mitigative measures for each of the following situations:

Option 1 – When the southbound train fits completely in one of the sidings near the Interchange Point (less than 3,000 feet) or is broken and placed in the two sidings near the Interchange Point.

Option 2 – When both the southbound and the northbound trains are over 5,500 feet and neither train fits, even when broken, in the two sidings near the Interchange Point.

Option 3 – When the southbound train is over 5,500 feet and does not fit in the two sidings near the Interchange Point, but the northbound train does.

Option 1 – When the southbound train fits completely in one of the sidings near the Interchange Point (less than 3,000 feet) or is broken and placed in the two sidings near the Interchange Point.

[5] Under the proposed procedure, the southbound train arriving in Huntingdon will be left idling on the western siding near the Interchange Point or, if the train is too long, it will be broken up between the two sidings using the new switch. CSXT proposes that in either case, the locomotives will be located near the Ridge Road at-grade road/rail crossing, and far away from the residences of Elzear and Shirley O’Connor and Clarence-Michael Chaput (the complainants).

[6] The northbound train will then pass by the Interchange Point and be left idling near the Rankin Road at-grade road/rail crossing (Rankin Road crossing) where the crew change will take place.

Option 2 – When both the southbound and the northbound trains are over 5,500 feet and neither train fits, even when broken, in the two sidings near the Interchange Point.

[7] The proposed procedure would provide for the southbound train to go directly to Massena, New York without a crew change in Huntingdon.

[8] The northbound train will not leave Massena, New York until the southbound train arrives. The northbound train will then pass by the Interchange Point and be left idling near the Rankin Road crossing.

Option 3 – When the southbound train is over 5,500 feet and does not fit in the two sidings near the Interchange Point, but the northbound train does.

[9] Under the proposed procedure, the southbound train will arrive first in Huntingdon and will be left idling near the Rankin Road crossing.

[10] The northbound train will arrive after the southbound train and will be left idling in one of the sidings near the Interchange Point. CSXT submits that if the train is too long to fit in one siding, it will be broken up between the two sidings at the Interchange Point. In either case, the locomotives will be left idling no closer than 1,000 feet from the Lake Street at-grade road/rail crossing (Lake Street crossing).

[11] CSXT states that trains captured under situations 1 and 2 make up 99 percent of its operations in Huntingdon. CSXT adds that it has obtained the capital commitment for the installation of the new switch and the new ground compressor and that the installation “should be complete within the next four months.”

[12] With respect to the switching activities, CSXT argues that due to its level of service obligations, it can neither relocate the switching operations required for the local customer nor limit those switching operations to the daytime. CSXT states that it currently has one local customer, Dundee Seeds, which is located less than a mile from the Lake Street crossing. CSXT submits that it delivers “no more than one (1) to two (2) cars per week” to Dundee Seeds. CSXT explains that the current switching activities required to service its customer only involve the locomotive “running around the train” which lasts a maximum of 20 minutes. CSXT maintains that, as a result, there is no noise caused by accelerating, braking, coupling or uncoupling or wheel/rail interface. Finally, CSXT claims that the proposed new switch at the south end of the eastern siding of the Interchange Point will allow CSXT to conduct its switching activities at the southern end of the Interchange Point. As for the timing of switching activities, CSXT states that the cars can only be switched in the early morning due to daytime train traffic.

The complainants’ comments on the proposed mitigative measures

[13] The complainants submit that they find “the solutions set out by CSXT to be carried out within the next four months to be acceptable.”

[14] The complainants request that during the four-month period, and anytime in the future, if it is absolutely necessary to leave engines anywhere near the Lake Street crossing, that they be situated for the shortest period of time and as far as possible from their residences.

ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION

[15] The Agency notes that CSXT has proposed changes to its operations in response to the Agency’s finding that CSXT failed to comply with section 95.1 of the CTA. The Agency notes that the complainants are satisfied with the proposed mitigative measures. Further, the Agency finds that the proposed measures are consistent with the direction in the Show Cause Decision and are designed to address the noise due to the idling locomotives, the switching operations and the resulting whistling.

ORDER

[16] The Agency orders CSXT to implement the changes to its operations, as described in its response to the Show Cause Decision, within four months from the date of this Decision. Should CSXT make any substantive changes to the proposed measures, CSXT shall inform the complainants and, if necessary, refer this matter back to the Agency prior to implementing any such changes.

[17] The Agency reminds CSXT of its continued obligation under section 95.1 of the CTA to only cause such noise and vibration as is reasonable. As such, CSXT should on an ongoing basis consider the impact of its operations on all residents within proximity to its operations.

Member(s)

Raymon J. Kaduck
Geoffrey C. Hare
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