Railway Boss: Conductor Didn't Set Brakes
Edward Burkhardt tours the devastation in Quebec
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2013 2:40 PM CDT
Edward Burkhardt speaks to the media as he tours Lac-Megantic, Quebec, on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/ The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

(Newser) – Yesterday, the head of the railway company whose runaway train decimated a small Quebec town suggested that firefighters were to blame for the tragedy. Today, Edward Burkhardt of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway is blaming one of his own employees—the conductor who left the train in the nearby town of Nantes, reports AP. "We think he applied some hand brakes, but the question is did he apply enough of them," Burkhardt said. "He said he applied 11 hand brakes, (and) we think that's not true. Initially we believed him, but now we don't."

The conductor has been suspended without pay for the time being. It's not clear whether Burkhardt still thinks firefighters who extinguished a fire aboard the train in Nantes bear some of the responsibility. The driverless train began rolling on its own at some point after the fire was out, and eventually barreled into Lac-Megantic. Residents heckled Burkhardt, who waited until today to pay his first visit to the crash scene, reports the Toronto Star. “I feel absolutely awful," he said. "I am devastated by what’s happened.” Fifteen people have been confirmed dead, and dozens more remain missing. A complicating factor is that some of the victims might have been vaporized by the explosions, reports CNN.

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Jul 11, 2013 8:37 AM CDT
The problem in this is that all through this event, unlike at least the newswriting about the Asiana aircraft crash which was much better than the outright gossip and rumor that Associated Propaganda wrote about the Quebec tankcar runaway and fire, the MISINFORMATION we have been having thrown at us has been like a pinball machine... with untrue descriptions of what happened and incorrect terminology and sporadic official commentary by anyone who really knows what is going on. Combine that to todays news writers who pretend to be reporters and yet do not know anything at all about investigative journalism, and we have this very sad incident of tragedy become what for me has been a very depressed professional regard for what one "fellow railroader" has done to disobey standard railroad rulebook rules. Points of my concern, since this is the first time I have ever heard of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic railroad, a new conglomerate of unconnected railroads that Mr. Edward Burkhardt has put together -- which by corporate law was a HUGE mistake to do -- are: 1) What was the crew size? I am inclined to believe it is a TWO-PERSON crew! This is typical of many small railroads and would possibly explain why an overworked unfaithful conductor might irresponsibly not follow the rules for safely securing the tank cars when they "set out" the cars, "cutting corners" to save on effort and time but does not in the slightest excuse the conductor for not safely "tying-down" the cars properly; 2) What was the management of this very small conglomeration of separate operations in two countries of this ONE railroad? This question relates to both training, employe qualification, and supervision. No standard railroad would ever operate the way the MM&A operated by my professional railroad perceptions; 3) Regarding my question Nr. 2 -- what were the employment considerations in hiring the conductor, as to previous railroad experience, and why was this conductor promoted to that position of managing a train? During my twenty year experience as a locomotive engineer, I only had one conductor and two yard engine foremen whom we did not have a good regard for each other, however, they were totally qualified and totally experienced in their professional conduct. I never met a conductor on any railroad who I did not regard as being fully qualified for the job. So... what experience did this conductor have that resulted in his being hired and promoted to the status of conductor? Now that I am finally sorting out all of the false news writing rumors and misinformation, this is more than just astonishing me, I am depressed by it. This is not supposed to happen, and this incident does not in any way diminish my respect and confidence in my colleagues who operate trains every day all across our nation and around the world. There is something more behind this tragic event than the inept news media is able to find out.
Jul 10, 2013 6:53 PM CDT
Well libtards, do we ban trains? This train killed more people than sandy hook and Aurora combined.
Jul 10, 2013 6:52 PM CDT
First Mr. Burkhardt blamed the Nantes Fire Department. Now he blames the train's engineer. Who will he accuse next -- aliens from the next star system? His railroad has a dismal safety record, compared to many other North American lines. The buck stops at your desk, Mr. Burkhardt. But don't spend it. You're going to need lots of bucks, to pay for all those lawsuits.