Railway Investigation R13T0192

The accident

On the morning of September 18, 2013, OC Transpo double-decker bus No. 8017, operating as Express Route 76, arrived at the OC Transpo Fallowfield Bus Station in South Ottawa at 0846:24. The bus was en route toward downtown Ottawa along the Transitway, a private 2-lane roadway dedicated to commuter bus traffic. From the bus station, the northbound Transitway extends east to a left-hand curve which turns sharply north and then runs parallel to Woodroffe Avenue. The bus was in good mechanical condition. The bus driver was fit for duty and familiar with the route.

Meanwhile, VIA passenger train No. 51, which was heading west to Toronto, was approaching the Woodroffe Avenue and Transitway crossings. Although the crossing flashing lights, bells and gates had been activated more than 30 seconds earlier, the bells were not audible within the bus, and the driver’s view of the gates and flashing lights was obstructed by trees, shrubs, foliage, Transitway signage and the front corner pillars of the bus.

At 0848:06, with its speed reduced to 7.7 km/h (4.8 mph), the bus collided with the train.

As a result of the collision, the bus was extensively damaged. The driver and five passengers sustained fatal injuries, nine other passengers were seriously injured, and about 25 passengers incurred minor injuries. Although the train derailed, none of the VIA crew or passengers were injured.

Read the complete Executive summary

Map of the area

Investigator-in-Charge

Photo of Rob Johnston, investigator-in-charge

Rob Johnston has been with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) since 2001. He was Senior Regional Investigator in Winnipeg until 2004, when he assumed the position of Senior Investigator, Standards and Training Officer at TSB Head Office in Gatineau, Quebec. He became Manager of Central Regional Operations in November 2009, and served as Acting Director of Investigations - Rail/Pipeline for 9 months in 2010– 2011.

During his time at the TSB, Mr. Johnston has been involved in over 60 TSB accident investigations as either an Investigator-in-Charge or as an investigation team member providing technical expertise.

Before joining the TSB, Mr. Johnston worked for Canadian Pacific Railway in Winnipeg from 1984 until 2001, where, as a member of the Train Accident Prevention group, he acquired an extensive background in mechanical operations, failure analysis, and dangerous goods.

Photos

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TSB investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation
  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

Report

Executive summary
Final report
2015-12-02

Railway Investigation Report R13T0192
Crossing collision
VIA Rail Canada Inc. passenger train No. 51
OC Transpo double-decker Bus No. 8017
Mile 3.30, Smiths Falls Subdivision
Ottawa, Ontario
18 September 2013

Safety communications

Recommendations
2015-12-02

TSB Recommendation R15-01: The Board recommends that the Department of Transport, in consultation with the provinces, develop comprehensive guidelines for the installation and use of in-vehicle video monitor displays to reduce the risk of driver distraction.

2015-12-02

TSB Recommendation R15-02: The Board recommends that the Department of Transport develop and implement crashworthiness standards for commercial passenger buses to reduce the risk of injury.

2015-12-02

TSB Recommendation R15-03: The Board recommends that the Department of Transport require commercial passenger buses to be equipped with dedicated, crashworthy event data recorders.

2015-12-02

TSB Recommendation R15-04: The Board recommends that the Department of Transport provide specific guidance as to when grade separation should be considered.

2015-12-02

TSB Recommendation R15-05: The Board recommends that the City of Ottawa reconsider the need for grade separation at the Woodroffe Avenue, Transitway and Fallowfield Road level crossings.

Safety advisories
2014-09-24

Braking analysis and bus speed approaching crossings (617-12/14)
Read the rail safety advisory letter

2014-09-24

Video monitoring system on OC Transpo double decker buses (617-10/14)
Read the rail safety advisory letter

2014-02-25

Reported malfunction of transitway automatic crossing protection (617-02/14)
Read the rail safety advisory letter

2014-02-25

OC Transpo buses traversing crossings with activated AWD protection (617-01/14)
Read the rail safety advisory letter

Media materials

News releases
2016-04-19

TSB assesses responses to recommendations arising from the 2013 OC Transpo-VIA RAIL accident investigation
Read the news release

2015-12-02

TSB issues five recommendations following investigation into September 2013 collision between an OC Transpo bus and a VIA Rail train
Read the news release

2014-09-24

Progress update on investigation into fatal 2013 OC Transpo – VIA Rail collision on Ottawa’s Transitway
Read the news release

2014-02-25

TSB issues safety advisory letters to the City of Ottawa as part of fatal September 2013 bus–train collision investigation
Read the news release

2013-09-20

Update on investigation into OC Transpo - VIA Rail collision in Ottawa
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2013-09-18

TSB launches investigation into bus-train collision in Ottawa, Ontario
Read the news release

Backgrounders
2015-12-02

Findings of the investigation into the September 2013 collision between an OC Transpo bus and a VIA Rail train in Ottawa, Ontario
Read the backgrounder

2015-12-02

Safety communications for the investigation into the September 2013 collision between an OC Transpo bus and a VIA Rail train in Ottawa, Ontario
Read the backgrounder

2015-12-02

Sequence of events of the September 2013 collision between an OC Transpo bus and a VIA Rail train in Ottawa, Ontario
Read the backgrounder

Speeches and presentations
2015-12-02

News conference for OC Transpo-VIA Rail (R13T0192): Opening remarks
Read the remarks

Media advisories
2015-11-30

News Conference: TSB to release of final railway investigation report of the 18 September 2013 collision between a VIA Rail train and an OC Transpo bus in Ottawa, Ontario
Read the media advisory

2013-09-20

News Conference: TSB to provide information on the investigation into the 18 September 2013 collision between a VIA Rail train and an OC Transpo bus in Ottawa, Ontario
Read the media advisory

2013-09-18

News Conference: TSB to provide information on the investigation into the collision between a VIA Rail train and an OC Transpo bus in Ottawa, Ontario
Read the media advisory

Deployment notice
2013-09-18

Transportation Safety Board of Canada deploys team to the site of a collision between a VIA Rail train and an OC Transpo bus in Ottawa, Ontario
Read the deployment notice

Video

Sequence of events
2015-12-02

Sequence of events of the crossing collision between VIA Rail Canada Inc. passenger train and OC Transpo double-decker bus (R13T0192)
Watch the video