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Rail service to resume in Lac-Mégantic after fatal derailment

Dozens of tanker cars similar to the model used for the train that crashed in Lac-Megantic, Que., are parked on Monday, July 16, on the train's line near Farnham, Que. Photo by Les Perreaux

Les Perreaux/The Globe and Mail

Trains will return to Lac-Mégantic, Que,. on Wednesday, less than six months after a fatal derailment laid waste to the downtown.

Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said service will be restored gradually and will initially be limited to dry goods. Forty-seven people were killed in Lac-Mégantic last July when a train carrying crude oil jumped the tracks, causing a series of massive explosions.

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, the company whose train crashed in Lac-Mégantic, has promised not to run oil through the town, but Lac-Mégantic will have no guarantee that pledge will be kept once the railway is sold to another company. MM&A has filed for creditor protection, and its assets are expected to be sold before next February.

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Once MM&A has been sold, the town will have to negotiate a new agreement with the company that takes over, the mayor said.

Ms. Roy-Laroche acknowledged that many residents do not want to see trains in the town again, but she said limited rail service is necessary to prevent an economic crisis in the small town from deepening.

The first trains will travel between Montreal and the town's industrial park, which hosts several manufacturers that rely on the railway to export their products. The trains will move through the community during the day only and will initially be limited to about three trips a week, Ms. Roy-Laroche said.

The town has been lobbying for a bypass route to be built around the downtown core. Mr. Roy-Laroche said Quebec's department of transportation is conducting a feasibility study that will look at the idea, including how much it would cost to build a new set of tracks.

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