News release

Safety procedures revised following May 2013 train - truck collision in Québec City

Montreal, Quebec, 6 October 2014 – In its investigation report (R13Q0012) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that the May 2013 collision between a VIA Rail Canada Inc. passenger train and a tractor-trailer at a private level crossing in Québec occurred when the train was proceeding through the crossing while the manual gate protecting the crossing was up. There were no injuries.

On 2 May 2013, a VIA Rail Canada passenger train, after disembarking the passengers and refuelling, was travelling in reverse between Gare du Palais and the Limoilou Yard in Quebec, Quebec.   There were two crew members – the operating locomotive engineer in the lead locomotive, and the in-charge locomotive engineer on the ground, who was supervising the reverse movement. Instructions were being communicated to the locomotive engineer by radio. The collision occurred at the private level crossing leading to the Papiers White Birch paper mill. The last passenger car was damaged and the tractor-trailer was destroyed. About 300 litres of diesel fuel from the tractor-trailer's fuel tank spilled on the ground.

The investigation found that when the occurrence tractor-trailer started the turn to enter the paper mill, the manual gates at the crossing were up, and the traffic light controlling access to the plant was indicating that traffic could proceed. Noting that another truck had stopped on the paper mill side, the in-charge locomotive engineer concluded that the manual gate was down, and then informed the operating locomotive engineer that the crossing was protected while it was not. The guard who operates the crossing gates did not immediately recognize the need to lower the gates to protect the crossing, as the view of the train was partially obstructed and the refueling operation had taken less time than usual.

Following the occurrence, VIA Rail Canada Inc. amended its procedures so that trains no longer stop upon exiting Gare du Palaisand changed its refuelling point to move it away from the level crossing. Transport Canada has entered into discussions with the City of Quebec, the Papiers White Birch paper mill and Canadian National to improve the traffic light and crossing protection systems at this location.

The risk of passenger trains colliding with vehicles is a TSB Watchlist issue. Watch the TSB video!


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