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High Speed Rail Will Save Lives

Safety must be a priority for future Ontario passenger rail lines

RE The Record: High-speed rail plan may cause hardship for rural Ontario — April 18

The column by Luisa D'Amato about a possible high-speed rail line between London and Toronto missed a significant point.

Her focus seemed to be demeaning Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals as the opening and closing statements in the column clearly showed.

She is quick to support the alternative to high-speed rail without even considering the basic facts with respect to the comparison of traditional passenger rail and high-speed rail. Many of the concerns brought forward by the advocacy group InterCityRail spokesperson Nicole Langlois could be easily mitigated during the design stage of the project.

The biggest mistake D'Amato and Langlois made was suggesting that the solution of putting more trains on the existing line is the answer. From a safety prospective this approach is the most dangerous option.

The existing rail line has many level rail crossings. These are where serious and fatal accidents occur regardless of what type of rail crossing protection they have. (e.g. signs, lights, bells, and/or gates). The recent history of fatalities near London and Breslau at level rail crossings should remind us that safety must be a priority.

I was on board a VIA Rail train more than a decade ago outside of Rockwood when we hit a car stuck on the tracks (there were safety gates at the crossing). The car was demolished. Luckily the occupants got out in time. Everyone on the train was shook up and it reminded me of how important it is to have grade-separated rails so that freight trains, vehicles, and people will not be hit by passenger trains.

High-speed rail lines are grade separated and these accidents cannot occur.

Perhaps D'Amato should investigate the issue further. The real issue is about saving lives by building modern passenger rail systems.