The danger of transporting dangerous goods by train was tragically demonstrated four years ago when an oil-carrying train derailed and overturned downtown Lac-Mégantic, killing 47 people.
But while the small town of Estrie is rebuilding, some engineers at Concordia University in Montreal are working on a mathematical model that could help prevent similar railway disasters.
The project, led by doctoral student Omar Abuobidalla, aims to design a model that takes into account various risk factors related to a given train journey, in order to allow operators to make the best decision on the route to follow, Said one of the project’s supervisors.
Mingyuan Chen, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Concordia, explained that an investigation could identify railway segments or “very dangerous” places and give them greater weight in the model.
The solution emanating from the mathematical model would later help to avoid these places, he added.
For example, the final version of the model could include risk factors such as the population in an area, the type of equipment being transported, and even the inclination of the railway – some of which may have contributed to the Lac-Mégantic tragedy .
If the risks are deemed important, the model could suggest another route if possible, or suggest a recommendation such as speed reduction, Chen said.
The team – comprised of two supervisors, Mr. Abuobidalla and a master’s student – is still working on mathematical equations to calculate the risk in the most accurate way possible without the complexity being prohibitively expensive. Use of the final product.
Some results may be available within a year, but the final study results, which are funded in part by the Canadian National, are not expected to last for two years or more.
Mr. Chen said it would be “too much ahead” to suggest that the work of his team could prevent another disaster such as the one in Lac-Mégantic, given the various elements involved in such an accident.
He also stressed that other solutions are proposed by researchers, governments and railway companies.
The federal government, for example, has announced a number of measures, including reducing the speed of convoys in urban areas, disclosing to municipalities the type of dangerous goods that are likely to cross their territories, and removing old DOT wagons -111.
All the same, the professor said that the research is promising.
“The influence of such research, including ours, would greatly reduce the risk of the reproduction of such events,” he said.
Reconstruction: Lac-Mégantic wants to become an “inspiring model”
As legislators continue to look for ways to improve railway safety, residents of Lac-Mégantic were preparing on Wednesday for another bleak anniversary of the derailment of July 6, 2013.
“We have been feeling for a few days that people are somewhat different, some are uncomfortable,” said Sonia Dumont, a spokesman for the city’s reconstruction committee.
Ms. Dumont stated that after years of planning and decontamination work, Lac-Mégantic is moving forward in the reconstruction process.
“(Reconstruction) is based on an eco-responsible vision, that is, putting people at the center of development, taking into account the environment, the economic aspect, and the environment. The social aspect. (…) There is also an openness to other ways to ensure that we look at best practices elsewhere, “said the spokesperson for the Lac-Mégantic Downtown Reconstruction Office.
“We think we can become an inspiring model for other municipalities on how we have and will have to rebuild ourselves differently,” continued Ms. Dumont.
The construction of several new projects, including a new park, a pedestrian walkway and a multifunctional community space, will begin this fall, she said.
As the projects flourish, residents do not give up their calls for a bypass that would move trains away from the heart of the city.
The federal and Quebec governments funded a feasibility study on the issue, and the Public Hearing Panel on the Environment also began hearings in May.
“Projects are underway in the downtown area and we are moving forward, but keep in mind that in the near future we will want to, we expect to see a bypass,” she said. valorize.