POLITICS

MPs To Reconvene To Talk Railway Safety

07/19/2013 11:09 EDT | Updated 09/18/2013 05:12 EDT
The House of Commons transport committee is expected to be recalled next week for emergency hearings on railway safety.

NDP transportation critic Olivia Chow, who is also vice-chair of the committee, has formally requested the meeting — and garnered the required support of three fellow members — in the wake of the deadly train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que. two weeks ago.

That means the chair must hold a meeting within five days — by Wednesday at the latest. But it's still not clear if hearings will actually proceed — or if the committee will go behind closed doors and chart a path forward.

The chairman of the House of Commons transport committee, Conservative MP Larry Miller, has said it's too early to reconvene because the investigation is ongoing. He said politicians need to get out of the way and let police and transportation safety investigators do their job first.

Chow told CBC Montreal radio program Daybreak earlier today that even though the cause of the crash has not been determined, there are plenty of issues MPs can begin to examine, such as crew sizes and hand brake rules.

Disaster workers found the remains of four more victims on Thursday in the red zone of the town where the train carrying crude oil derailed and set off a series of explosions. Quebec provincial police confirmed the official death toll is now 42, with eight more people unaccounted for and presumed dead.

The unmanned train — all but one of its 73 cars carrying crude oil — hurtled down a 11-kilometre incline, derailed and exploded in the centre of town. The deadly crash has ignited a political debate about train safety in Canada.

Transportation Safety Board officials delivered an update on the investigation this morning, and said officials are "making good progress." The TSB is asking Transport Canada to review operating rules around securing unattended trains and trains carring dangerous goods.

Officials said the investigation remains the board's "top priority" across all modes of transport. Investigators on site and in Ottawa are reviewing voice recorder data, inspecting tracks and cars and taking photographs and measurements to help calculations to understand what happened.

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