A BCEHS ambulance was dispatched to a call at Rocky Mountain Village in Fernie on October 7, 2.65km from the ambulance station, but was stopped short at the 4th Street train crossing when a train rolled through town. Multiple times a day, the communities of Ridgemont and beyond are isolated and unreachable by medical personnel for a period of four minutes or more. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Delays at railroad crossing in Kootenay town cause for concern

About 1870 Fernie residents are temporarily isolated when the train passes through town

Multiple times a day, the Fernie communities of Ridgemont and beyond are isolated and unreachable by medical personnel.

Trains are commonplace in the Elk Valley, and an integral part of local industry. They are the lifeline of many industries across Canada. The age-old train lines here have seen many cars pass over them; coal, canola, lumber, ammonia, to name a few.

Through Fernie, the train line runs parallel to downtown and acts as a divider between commercial (northwest) and residential (southeast).

Without trains, the Elk Valley’s life blood of coal, and exports from Alberta, would never reach consumers on the coast. However this train line also comes with challenges for those living on the other side of the railroad crossing.

Two train crossings in the Fernie area are used regularly to reach the residential areas of Ridgemont, Pine Avenue, Coal Creek, Montane, the mobile home park, Castle Mountain subdivisions, an apartment complex, as well as Rocky Mountain Village senior’s care home. Also included in this area is the Fernie Aquatic Centre, bike park, and in the winter, outdoor skating rink.

This area is growing quickly, with developments underway, subdivisions extended and more homes built every year.

Of the approx. 5,250 people that live in Fernie, about 1870 are temporarily isolated when the train passes through town, four times a day or more. This number does not include the residents of Cokato, which borders the City of Fernie and is also accessible using these crossings.

When passing through town, the train, which stretches about three kilometres in length, blocks each train crossing for approximately four minutes. In addition to this, it blocks both main train crossings simultaneously for a period of a few minutes, and will sometimes stop for an indeterminate period of time.

According to CP Rail, an average train in the Elk Valley is 152 cars long, at 67 feet per car, making them about 10,000 feet or 3.048 kilometres in length.

A spokeperson for CP Rail explained that between four to six trains pass through the Valley in a 24-hour period, but that the number of trains are determined by how much product the mines export in a given day.

On October 7 at 10:58 p.m., BCEHS paramedics were dispatched to a call at Rocky Mountain Village in Fernie, a retirement home located 1.5 km from the paramedic station, and another 1.15 km past the railroad crossing.

According to a statement by BC Emergency Health Services, the ambulance responded lights and sirens through downtown, but stopped short of the tracks when they saw crossing lights flashing and arms lowering.

The ambulance turned off its sirens and stopped, the only vehicle in line to cross the tracks. About four minutes later once the train had passed, the arms lifted and the ambulance proceeded the remaining distance to the call. They arrived at the scene at 11:08 p.m.

No details were provided with regards to the outcome of the call.

According to a BCEHS spokesperson, the three train track crossings in the city of Fernie are something all emergency responders take into consideration.

The BCEHS spokesperson further explained that in the event a crossing is blocked by a moving train, it is usually quickest and safest for paramedics to wait at the crossing and proceed when it clears. If a train has stopped and blocked the crossing for an undetermined amount of time, the spokesperson explained that responding crews are to ‘use their best judgement’ and possibly reroute to another crossing.

However, the length of the trains make this difficult. The two main crossings in Fernie are one kilometre apart. With each train three kilometres long, both crossings will be blocked for two kilometres of travel.

If you have been affected by delays due to the train, or would like to share your thoughts on this, write to editor@thefreepress.ca.



editor@thefreepress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

RCMP report

Some of the more interesting callouts for Columbia Valley RCMP November 4-10th

Moose tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in northwest Montana

This is the first time the disease has been detected in the species in Montana

Watching our water footprint

Lake Windermere Ambassadors coordinator walks through water footprint

Films celebrate passionate people and places

Get your tickets now for upcoming Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Most Read