Rail Safety Advisory Letter 617-03/19

VIA trains coming into contact with track materials placed between the rails in preparation for track work

Place du Centre
200 Promenade du Portage, 4th Floor
Gatineau QC  K1A 1K8

25 March 2019

Safety advisory letter 617-03/19
Related occurrence: R19H0021, R19M00157

Letter addressed to:
Canadian National Railway Company
VIA Rail Canada Inc.

Subject: Rail Safety Advisory Letter – 617-03/19: VIA trains coming into contact with track materials placed between the rails in preparation for track work

Since February 2019, there have been 2 occurrences involving a VIA Rail Canada Inc. (VIA) passenger train that was damaged and disabled after coming into contact with track materials left between the rails in preparation for track work.

  1. On 02 February 2019, eastbound VIA Rail Canada Inc. (VIA) passenger train 62/52 (VIA 62/52), which was being operated as a J-train,Footnote 1 with 2 locomotives (1 at the head end and 1 mid-train) and 11 passengers coaches, was travelling near Brighton, Ontario, on the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) Kingston Subdivision. At 1008 Eastern Standard Time, as VIA 62/52 was approaching Mile 239.8 at about 95 mph, it was damaged and disabled after coming into contact with track materials (tie platesFootnote 2) that had been placed between the rails. The track materials were to be installed the following day as part of a track maintenance project. Furthermore, a CN hi-rail vehicle, parked near the track, was struck by debris that had been projected from the track by VIA 62/52, seriously injuring an engineering employee when the debris entered the vehicle through the back window (Figure 1). About 1600 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled from the mid-train locomotive after its fuel tank was punctured. There were no injuries to the train crew or to the passengers (TSB Occurrence No. R19H0021).

    Post-occurrence examination of the train identified significant damage that began under the third passenger coach and became progressively worse towards the back of the train. Damage to the rolling stock included:
    • punctured fuel tank
    • broken brake components
    • broken windows
    • lacerations and perforations to the belly plates
Figure 1. Damage due to tie plate entering the CN hi-rail vehicle through the back window (Source: CN)
Damage due to tie plate entering the CN hi-rail vehicle through the back window
  1. On 20 March 2019, at about 1445 Atlantic Daylight Time, VIA passenger train 15 (VIA 15), proceeding west at approximately 70 mph on the CN Springhill Subdivision and operating with 2 locomotives and 14 passenger coaches, was damaged and disabled after coming into contact with track materials placed between the rails at Mile 7.5 (Figure 2). The track materials, which included tie plates, were to be installed during track work that was scheduled for the following day. The second locomotive lost the contents of its fuel tank as a result of the damage. There were no injuries (TSB Occurrence No. R19M0015).

    The damage sustained to VIA 15 included:
    • punctured fuel tank
    • broken windows
    • lacerations and perforations to belly plates and water tanks
Figure 2. Tie plates placed between the rails in the vicinity of the occurrence (Source: VIA)
Tie plates placed between the rails in the vicinity of the occurrence

Given the potential consequences when trains come into contact with track materials, Canadian National, in conjunction with VIA, may wish to conduct a risk assessment to identify and implement appropriate measures to ensure that VIA trains can travel safely through locations where track materials are placed between the rails in preparation for track work.

Original signed by

Kirby Jang
Director
Investigation Operations, Rail/Pipeline

Cc.

  • Transport Canada
  • Canadian National
  • Railway Association of Canada
  • Canadian Pacific Railway

Background information

Occurrence No.

R19H0021
R19M0015

Contacts

Glen Pilon, Regional Senior Investigator, Head Office, Gatineau, Quebec

Dennis Church, Regional Senior Investigator, Dartmouth Regional Office, Nova Scotia

Date modified: