Native rail line tampering illegal, threat to innocent life: CN official



OTTAWA - Canadian National Railway Police are investigating a dangerous case of tampering with crossing signals during an aboriginal blockade of a rail line east of Belleville, Ont., over the weekend.

CN spokesman Jim Feeny said railway staff witnessed the tampering Saturday afternoon after protesters went to the same location "where Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had blockaded the week before."

"They were observed going to the crossing signals, tampering with them," Feeny said. "The crossing signals were then activated and then subsequently a fire was lit - first on the tracks, but then moved to the side of the tracks."

Feeny said innocent people could be killed in any accident caused by railway signals that aren't working properly.

"It's a serious issue for us because tampering with signals of any kind is illegal and poses a great threat to the public," he said. "We have to have absolute confidence that our signals are working perfectly in order to be able to operate trains."

Asked whether CN Police would beef up their patrols where future blockades could happen, Feeny wouldn't tip his hand.

"We are taking precautions," he said.

Via Rail had to halt passenger service along its Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor for several hours Saturday because of the Idle No More aboriginal blockade.

CN used buses to take passengers around the blockade and onto trains that would take them to their destinations.

Via said more than 1,000 passengers faced delays of up to two hours.

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