Railway Investigation R14M0002

Train derailment in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick

The occurrence

A mixed freight train, with 122 cars, 3 head-end locomotives and 1 remote locomotive, departed from Toronto towards Moncton. The train was 8045 feet long and weighed 9938 tons. There were 65 loaded cars, 25 empty cars and 32 residue cars.

Nineteen cars and the remote locomotive have derailed. The derailment involved the following dangerous goods: crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas. The crude oil originated from Western Canada and was destined to be shipped to the Irving refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick.

There were no crew injuries and approximately 150 people near the accident site were evacuated.

What we know

Investigators found a cracked wheel on a car near the front of the train. This wheel moved on the axle and lost track gauge, resulting in the derailment of that wheel set.  There was also a broken rail. The derailed wheel and pieces of that wheel found close to the initial point of derailment will be sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory for more detailed analysis.

TSB investigators walked the track from the pile-up to a crossing to the west. They also travelled along the track by hi-rail 10 miles to the west. They were able to determine the initial point of derailment. Along the 10 miles of track before the pile-up, there were 17 broken rails found. The base of the rail was damaged in 50 places by the derailed wheel.

The TSB entered the hot zone. Many photos were taken on site. Some tank cars were moved for examination and documentation. The specialists from the TSB Engineering Laboratory examined the damage to these cars.

There were 5 Class 111 tanks cars and 4 Class 112 tanks that sustained damage, and 2 Class 111 and 2 Class 112 that caught fire.The 111 tank cars contained petroleum crude oil and the 112 tank cars contained liquefied petroleum gas.

Next steps

The TSB investigators will begin gathering and analyzing all the records pertaining to the rolling stock and the crew, which have been requested from the railway company.

The engineering TSB Laboratory and investigation team will

  • examine and test selected components from the wreckage, such as the derailed wheel set, to help better understand how they performed during the accident;
  • review and validate data from the locomotive event recorder

TSB investigators have to examine all the information before drawing any conclusions. It is too early to say what the causes and contributing factors of this accident might be.

Investigations are complex and we will take the time necessary to do a careful analysis. However, if we identify any safety issues during the investigation, we will communicate immediately with the regulator and industry, and will inform Canadians.

Map of the area

Investigator-in-Charge

Photo of Don Ross

Guy Laporte joined the Transportation Safety Board of Canada in 2006. He had previously acquired valuable experience in the rail industry over a 27-year career at CN in Montréal, where he held various technician positions in Technical Services and supervisory positions with the railway's Buildings and Bridges and Structures departments.

Since joining the TSB, Mr. Laporte has taken part in numerous rail accident investigations in Eastern Canada.

Mr. Laporte earned a diploma in civil engineering technology from Montréal's Collège Ahuntsic, in 1978.

Photos

Click on the images to see them in full size.

See more high resolution pictures on the TSB Flickr page.

Transportation Safety Board 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.


Media

Deployment notices

2014-01-07

TSB deploys a team to the site of a CN train derailment near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick
Read the deployment notice

Media advisories

2014-01-08

Media availability on the investigation into the train derailment and fire near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick
Read the media advisory