Lac-Megantic rail chief jeered as he finally visits Quebec crash site


Quebec’s premier Pauline Marois has sharply criticised Edward Burkhardt, president and CEO of US-based Rail World Inc, owners of the runaway train that ploughed into Lac-Megantic.

“The leader of this company should have been there from the beginning,” Ms Marois said.

Mr Burkhardt arrived in Lac-Megantic for the first time on Wednesday with a police escort, pictured, to the jeers of residents.

He said he delayed his visit to deal with the crisis from his Chicago office, which had better communications. “I understand the extreme anger,” he said. “We owe an abject apology to the people in this town.”

He has blamed one of the company’s engineers for failing to set the brakes properly and said the man had been suspended without pay and was under “police control”. He did not name the engineer, though the company had previously identified him as Tom Harding, from Quebec. Mr Harding has not spoken publicly since the crash.

Investigators are also looking at a fire on the same train only hours before the disaster. A fire official said the train’s power was shut down as standard procedure, meaning its air brakes would have been disabled. In that case, hand brakes on individual train cars would have been needed.