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American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

CP to lay off 500 track maintenance workers

Canadian Pacific Railway last week began the process of cutting 500 track maintenance workers, a move that has officials with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference raising concerns about safety, the union group said in a statement.

   Canadian Pacific Railway will lay off 500 track maintenance workers in the coming weeks, a move that has officials with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference raising concerns about safety, the union group said in a release.
   CP began the workforce reduction last week as a result of “lower car volumes and a softening demand in a lackluster North American economy,” CP Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications Martin Cej told CBC News in a prepared statement.
   The latest announcement comes just a few weeks after the Calgary-based Class I railroad lowered its financial outlook for the second quarter of 2016 due to lower-than-anticipated bulk volumes, the devastating wildfires in northern Alberta and a strengthening Canadian dollar. CP now expects revenues to drop 12 percent compared with second quarter 2015, with diluted earnings per share around $2.00 Canadian (U.S. $1.54) per share and an operating ratio of about 62 percent.
   The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference said the job cuts could affect the safety of rail lines carrying hazardous cargoes as well as the surrounding communities by increasing the risk of future derailments. The union’s maintenance division said CP failed to conduct a formal risk assessment of how the layoffs could affect safety along railway lines across Canada, a requirement introduced after the Lac-Mégantic train disaster in 2013.
   “I don’t think it’s scaremongering at all,” said division president Gary Doherty. “I think the public should be aware of the potential. My concern is derailments; [if] we don’t have people out there properly maintaining the track or doing inspections, the potential for disaster is there.”
   In its statement to CBC News, however, CP countered that the company has invested heavily in track infrastructure in the past 10 years, adding that the workforce reduction was temporary and would only be in place until market conditions improve.
   “These temporary layoffs will not impact CP’s commitment to safety – the frequency of both visual inspections and ultrasonic rail flaw detection remains unchanged,” wrote Cej. “CP will continue to meet or exceed all regulatory requirements for track inspection and maintenance, as set out in the Track Safety Rules.”
   “CP carefully considered the changes that were being made and concluded that since they posed no additional risk to employees, the public, property or the environment, a risk assessment was not required,” he added. “Transport Canada was notified and agreed with this conclusion.”

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