Four years after Lac-Mgantic, the struggle to prevent similar rail disasters continues

MONTREAL—The dangers of transporting hazardous goods by train were highlighted in tragic fashion four years ago, when an oil-laden runaway train derailed and crashed in the centre of Lac-Mégantic, Que., killing 47 people.But as the town rebuilds and rebrands itself as an eco-friendly hub, some engineers at Montreal’s Concordia University are working to develop a math model they hope could help prevent similar rail disasters.The project, which is led by PhD student Omar Abuobidalla, aims to develop a model that would consider various risk factors involved in a given train journey, thus allowing rail operators to make the best decision on what route to use, according to one of the project’s supervisors.Read more:Lac-Mégantic residents are divided over new rail route that would bypass the townArticle Continued BelowReport a rail safety wake-up call“It may be (that) through investigation we locate very dangerous locations or track segments, and give that a much higher weight in the modelling,” said Mingyuan Chen, a professor in Concordia’s department of mechanical and industrial engineering.The solution from the mathematical model would then help avoid those locations, he added.