The letter called into question the effectiveness of the No. 1 brake test, which the train had passed prior to departing Calgary, heading towards Field. (CP Rail photo)

Train brake test called into question by TSB after fatal Field derailment probe

The derailment, which occured in Feb. 2019, killed three crew members

The effectiveness of the No. 1 brake test, which is conducted on trains to ensure they are up to safety regulations to operate, has been called into question recently by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).

The TSB released a letter, which was issued on April 17, 2020, is a part of the ongoing investigation into the CP train derailment that occurred near Field on Feb. 4, 2019, fatally injuring conductor Dylan Paradis, engineer Andrew Dockrell and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer.

Read more: TSB released update on Field derailment investigation

“Given this information, Transport Canada (TC) is advised that an alternate approach to determining the effectiveness of freight car air brakes is required to ensure that departing trains have sufficient effective brakes to operate safely,” the board wrote.

“The TSB would appreciate being advised of TC’s position on this issue, and what action, if any, will be taken in this regard.”

The train involved in the derailment was a distributed power train with one lead, one mid and one tail-end locomotive, had received and passed a No. 1 brake test before departing Calgary and heading toward Field.

A review of CP’s Health and Safety Committee hazard notifications revealed multiple instances of crews controlling speed descending the Field Hill in winter operating conditions.

According to these hazard notifications, there were issues with air brake performance on other unit grain trains travelling the same line, all of which had passed the No. 1 brake test.

Read more: Runaway rail car reported on same train line as fatal 2019 derailment near Field

To pass the No. 1 brake test, the regulations require that at least 95 per cent of air brakes to be operative on trains departing designated safety inspection locations. The actual brake force or its effect is not physically measured.

The TSB has advised TC that the No. 1 brake test does not reliably identify ineffective brakes in rail cars.

TC has not yet responded to the letter, although they are not required to do so. According to a TC spokeswoman Frederica Depuis, the ministry is reviewing the letter.

“Rail safety is the top priority for the minister of transport and the department is continuously looking for ways to make our railway system safer for Canadians,” she said.

“We share the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s commitment to advancing the safety of Canada’s transportation system and are committed to working with our partners to further enhance the safety of Canada’s railway system.”

Read more: RCMP to review fatal Field train derailment investigation after evidence points to ‘cover up’

The investigation is still ongoing, with a full investigation report expected upon completion.

The derailment became a national story earlier this year, when it became the source of a fifth-estate investigation through the CBC. Golden resident and former CP Police Service officer has been critical of CP’s processes that led to the derailment, believing an internal cover-up cut his investigation into the derailment short.

~ With files from The Canadian Press


Claire Palmer
Editor for the Golden Star
Email me at claire.palmer@thegoldenstar.net
Follow me on Twitter

Transportation Safety Board

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Flooding highly unlikely this year throughout Skeena watershed

Region’s snowpack among lowest in the province

BC Transit focused on making buses safer and more comfortable in Phase Two of BC’s Restart Plan

All Terrace buses will have vinyl barriers to protect drivers by June 1

Student food pack demand soars because of school closure

Starfish program now delivers food to students’ homes

Regional district puts COVID-19 safeguards in place

Meeting today will be by tele-conference

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read