Railroad News

TSB: Poor track conditions, maintenance delays led to CN derailment

Poor track conditions and maintenance delays led to the May 2014 derailment of a CN train near Fort Frances, Ont., the Transportation Safety Board of Canada announced earlier this week.

The train was traveling from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Chicago along the Fort Frances Subdivision when it derailed May 23, 2014, according to a TSB press release and the TSB report.

The train's crew noticed misaligned track ahead and took actions to stop the train. The track near the derailment "was in poor condition with defective ties, fouled ballast and ineffective rail anchoring," according to the agency. The derailment ultimately occurred when the misaligned track buckled under the train.

The agency's investigation also revealed that "CN did not consistently apply its Engineering Track Standards while Transport Canada's (TC) inspection and enforcement activities did not ensure timely maintenance action. Despite CN company maintenance and TC's regulatory inspection activities prior to the accident, the weakened track structure had not been adequately addressed and speed reductions were not applied."

CN concurred with the TSB finding that a combination of factors led to the accident. According to a company statement, the Class I "collaborated extensively" with the TSB's investigation and "seeks to learn from every accident and to continuously strengthen its safety management system in order to reduce main track derailments to an absolute minimum."

The railroad intends to invest in its 2016 capital program a record $2.9 billion (in Canadian dollars), of which $1.5 billion will be spent on track infrastructure, according to the statement.

"The infrastructure work will include the replacement of rail, ties, and other track materials, as well as bridge improvements and targeted branch line upgrades," CN officials said.

CN also noted that the TSB report acknowledged "several key strengths" of CN's safety management system.


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