Five months after a derailment shattered Lac-Mégantic, Que., trains could begin rolling through the town as soon as next week. Watched closely by nervous locals, the municipality is pledging to exercise a veto over what cargo can run on the rebuilt track.
Funded by the province, workers are finishing a new link between the town's industrial park and a rail network that stretches to Montreal. The fresh track was built in the area where an unmanned oil train careened out of control on the morning of July 6, killing 47. Only metres away, the city's downtown is a vast construction site dominated by tall mounds of dirt. The flames and explosions from the derailment of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train destroyed several city blocks.
"We know that not everyone will be easy with the return of trains," said Pascale Halle, the head of the local Chamber of Commerce. "I hesitate about the social acceptance. The population is still in a state of shock."
One of the project's most strident defenders, Mr. Halle began lobbying the government only weeks after the derailment to rebuild the tracks.
He argued about the impact on jobs. Nearly half of the local economy relies on factories served by railroads.
The town will own the rebuilt track and it will be under municipal jurisdiction. According to municipal employee Louis Longchamps, Lac-Mégantic will allow only "dry goods" on the right-of-way.
After the deadly derailment, MM&A had pledged to end transport of crude oil on its network.