The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) recently published its report on the fatal 2019 Canadian Pacific derailment. On February 3, 2019, the Canadian Pacific train had been sitting on a hill for three hours prior to the derailment. The crew was unaware that the train’s air brake system had been leaking brake cylinder pressure, reducing their ability to keep the train stopped on the grade. Eventually, the train began to creep forward and accelerate uncontrolled down the steep grade. Unfortunately, the crew was unable negotiate a sharp curve which caused two locomotives and 99 cars to derail. The three crewmembers suffered fatal injuries.
TSB claims the brake cylinders on the cars were leaking compressed air. The leak was exacerbated by their age, condition, and extended exposure to extreme cold temperatures. Upon completing the investigation, TSB issued the following recommendations to Transport Canada.
- Establish enhanced test standards and requirements for time-based maintenance of brake cylinders on freight cars operating on steep descending grades in cold ambient temperatures. (TSB Recommendation R22-01)
- Require Canadian freight railways to develop and implement a schedule for the installation of automatic parking brakes on freight cars, prioritizing the retrofit of cars used in bulk commodity unit trains in mountain grade territory. (TSB Recommendation R22-02)
- Require Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) to demonstrate that its safety management system can effectively identify hazards arising from operations using all available information, including employee hazard reports and data trends; assess the associated risks; and implement mitigation measures and validate that they are effective. (TSB Recommendation R22-03)
TSB Chair Kathy Fox said “This tragic accident demonstrates, once again, that uncontrolled movements of rolling stock continue to pose a significant safety risk to railway operations in Canada. It is obvious that more must be done to reduce the risks to railway employees and the Canadian public, reduce preventable loss of life, and increase the safety and resilience of this vital part of the Canadian supply chain.”
Transportation Safety Board of Canada reports on fatal Canadian Pacific 2019 derailment – CP pushes back