WATCH: The Englewood train hasn’t run since an April accident that killed three people, but now 34 people officially out of work. Dean Stoltz reports
Western Forest Products employees who worked on the Englewood train in Woss say they are left feeling bewildered after learning the train is shutting down for good.
“I feel terrible today. We got told that we don’t have jobs anymore,” said Pat Farmer, a rail traffic controller who has lived in Woss for 48 years and worked on the train for 28.
“I have an affinity for this place because I grew up here, these people are my family,” said Larry Knutson, a locomotive engineer who is also losing his job.
It’s another major blow to the small community of 200 people that was devastated back in April when three people were killed.
On the morning of April 20, the same train suddenly started rolling out of a re-load yard and crashed into a maintenance truck where five men were working.
The men who are losing their jobs knew all of the victims.
“I wake up at 3:30 in the morning and all I think about is those three fellows,” said Knutson.
The rail line hasn’t been used in the six-and-a-half months since the accident.
Neither have the rail cars that used to take the equivalent of 40 to 50 logging trucks of logs up to Beaver Cove near Port McNeill every day.
Western Forest Products (WFP) management staff who were at the community meeting on Wednesday morning declined to be interviewed but in a press release, the company stated that the train is being shut down to reduce costs and that the logs will be transported by logging trucks instead.
Workers say they have been told the shutdown is not due to the April incident.
Larry Farmer says he is worried about all of the extra logging trucks on the highway.
“All of those additional trucks on the highway, I fear for the public safety. I’m sorry,” he said.
WFP says after some people take early retirement and others take new jobs with the company, job losses will amount to about 15 people.
Area Director Dave Rushton calls it a sad day for Woss.
“Sad day you know, just another blow but historically loggers have been a very resilient breed and I’m sure they’ll all bounce back,” said Rushton.
He says generations of the same families have worked on the train that began hauling logs out of the area in 1917.
Tyler Desbiens, a second brakeman, started working on the train three years ago.
“Yeah it was going good, I bought a house and thought I was going to be here for the next 30 years, and everyone said it was efficient,” said Desbiens.
But now he and everyone else has to rethink their future as this train which has such a celebrated 100-year history seems to have reached the end of the line.