News release

Improperly lined switch led to December 2015 derailment near Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta, 25 May 2017 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (R15E0173) into a 2015 Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) derailment at Scotford Yard near Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, citing that a crew member did not observe a switch lined against the movement which subsequently damaged the switch.

On 8 December 2015, at about 1515 Mountain Standard Time, a CP switching assignment, which was being operated by a remote control locomotive system, derailed four loaded tank cars while performing switching operations at Scotford Yard. The derailed tank cars contained styrene monomer, a flammable liquid. Two cars remained upright, one car came to rest on its side, and one car rolled into a ditch, coming to rest upside down and releasing most of its contents. The majority of the product was recovered and disposed of during the initial response and through the removal of the contaminated soil during site remediation. There were no injuries.

The investigation determined that the forward movement of the train through a switch that was lined against the movement had damaged the switch. Unaware that the switch had been damaged, the crew then reversed the movement over the damaged switch, resulting in the derailment of four tank cars. The investigation found that the crew member on the leading end of the movement did not observe the visual cues indicating that the switch was lined in the opposite direction from the intended route.

Following the occurrence, CP initiated a number of safety actions including increasing performance monitoring, implementing pre-shift briefings, and providing mentoring and coaching sessions to ensure improved efficiency.

The transportation of flammable liquids by rail is a TSB Watchlist 2016 issue. As this occurrence demonstrates, the transportation of flammable liquids by rail across North America has created an elevated risk that needs to be mitigated effectively. Based on this investigation and previous ones, Board recommendations, and other safety communications, the TSB reiterates that flammable liquids must be shipped in more robust tank cars to reduce the likelihood of a dangerous goods release during accidents.

See the investigation page for more information.


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