Rail news release 2009

TSB # R02/2009

THE TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD OF CANADA RELEASES FINAL INVESTIGATION REPORT INTO THE AUGUST 2007 CANADIAN NATIONAL TRAIN YARD DERAILMENT AND FIRE IN PRINCE GEORGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA

(Gatineau, Quebec, March 31, 2009) - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its final investigation report into the August 4, 2007 train derailment and fire in Prince George, British Columbia. The investigation found that there had been an inadequate assessment of the risks associated with the activities and that management employees operating the remote control switching assignment the day of the accident were inadequately trained for the duties they were performing even though they were considered qualified from a regulatory perspective. The investigation also found that the tonnage of the cars being moved exceeded the capacity of the brakes on the switching locomotives.

The Board issued two Rail Safety Advisories to Transport Canada about this accident. The first one is related to the training of Canadian National (CN) managers who perform the duties of rail yard crews during times of crew shortages. The second one addressed the issue of work/rest rules for CN managers who perform the duties of rail yard crews during times of crew shortages.

During the course of the investigation, Transport Canada issued a Notice and Order requiring that switching operations at the location of the occurrence be subject to strict conditions to ensure safety.

On the morning of Saturday, August 4, 2007, while marshalling cars in the Prince George South Yard, remote-controlled locomotives pulling 53 loaded cars and being controlled by a CN supervisor lost control and the movement ran away northbound, striking a CN train entering the north end of the yard. The remote-controlled 53-car movement struck a car load of gasoline, derailing it and the next car ahead, also a loaded car of gasoline. Two locomotives, a slug unit and a loaded centre beam flat car in the yard movement derailed. The subsequent fire destroyed the two tank cars, the centre beam flat car, as well as the two locomotives and slug unit of the yard movement. There were no injuries. Approximately 172 600 litres of fuel (1600 litres of diesel and 171 000 litres of gasoline) was spilled; most was consumed by fire.


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.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca