GANANOQUE – Worn components on a rail car are to blame for a collision between a Canadian National freight train and a Via Rail passenger train two years ago.
Those findings from the Transportation Safety Board in its report released today (Feb. 11).
It said the freight train was heading east on the north track, east of Gananoque, when the last six cars on the CN train derailed on Aug. 1, 2014.
While the crew had sent out an emergency radio broadcast, a Via passenger train was heading west on the south main track and tried to emergency brake.
“As the two trains were slowing to a stop, a derailed center beam bulkhead flat car from the CN train struck the lead locomotive of the Via train and then scraped along the north side of the Via locomotive and the five passenger coaches,” the TSB wrote.
There were no injuries but the fuel tank of the locomotive was punctured, spilling 1,000 liters of fuel.
The investigation determined that excessive truck hunting (the side-to-side motion of the wheel set) on the flat car caused the derailment.
The board said it’s “concerned” that current visual inspection programs would not catch the wear and possible problems with these type of train cars. “Visual inspections alone may not have been enough,” reads the report.
The TSB said the type of car – of which there are roughly 48,000 in North America – bearing wear and truck type were also contributing factors.
Since the collision, CN and Canadian Pacific have introduced speed restrictions for empty center beam bulkhead flat cars and CN is upgrading the bearing units.
The Transportation Safety Board is an independent agency that investigates collisions and occurrences involving boats, pipelines, trains and airplanes. The TSB doesn’t assign fault but looks for ways to avoid similar collisions or occurrences in the future.