Canada’s Liberal government allows CP Rail to draw up its own safety rules following report into Field train derailment & More News

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More than three years after the fatal derailment of a runaway CP Rail train in Field, British Columbia took the lives of rail workers Andrew Dockrell, Dylan Paradis and Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer, Canada’s federal Liberal government announced in late July measures it claims will prevent further tragedies. The measures, revealed by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra in response to an investigation concluded in March by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), amount to a free pass for CP Rail and all Class I rail operators, who will be permitted to write their own safety guidelines.

Mid-train distributed power remote locomotive from the derailed CP Rail Train 301

In February 2019, two locomotives and 99 rail cars of CP Rail Train 301 derailed near the Kicking Horse River bridge. In the first leg of its trip the train had experienced braking issues before being put into emergency stop at Partridge Station for a crew change. While waiting for the relief crew to take over, the train was parked on a steep slope in extremely cold weather. A management decision was made not to apply hand brakes. By the time the replacement crew boarded the train, the pressure in the air brakes had dropped to such an extent that the crew was unable to control the train when it began to move.

In its final report, the TSB specifically recommended enhanced inspection and maintenance requirements for brakes on steep grades in cold weather. It also recommended the installation of automatic parking brakes on all freight cars.

A Ministerial Order from Alghabra came into effect on July 25 requiring railway companies to propose revisions to rules governing specific rail operations for the Minister’s approval. The revisions to be proposed must address pre-departure inspections, periodic maintenance of air brakes on trains, and the elevated risks of operating trains in cold temperatures. The order also requires rail companies to develop a winter operating plan for their equipment and specify actions to be taken when temperatures are very cold, including implementing speed restrictions and performing enhanced inspections.

Beginning in September, Transport Canada will launch a working group with railway companies to consider the design and safety parameters of such devices. At the TSB’s recommendation, the Government will launch targeted audits of Canadian Pacific Railway this month to assess the effectiveness of the company’s safety management systems and training regime. Additionally, Transport Canada will be required to conduct oversight of Canadian Pacific Railway’s occupational health and safety committees to monitor whether the company is effectively identifying and addressing hazards.

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