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Rail transportation safety investigation R19W0320

Table of contents

Main-track train derailment

Canadian Pacific Railway
Mile 48.8, Sutherland Subdivision
Near Guernsey, Saskatchewan

The occurrence

Please note that the following information is preliminary and subject to change as the TSB continues its investigation.

On , a Canadian Pacific (CP) crude oil unit train 516-398 was proceeding eastward at about 45 mph on the CP Sutherland Subdivision. The speed limit in this section of the subdivision is 45 mph. The train originated at Rosyth, Alberta, and was destined for Stroud, Oklahoma, USA. The train crew was composed of a locomotive engineer and a conductor. Both were qualified for their positions and fit for duty.

What we know

At 0010 Central Standard Time, the train experienced a train-initiated emergency brake application at Mile 48.85, near Guernsey, Saskatchewan. Initial site examination determined that the covered hopper car in position 2 and the following 33 tank cars had derailed. The derailed tank cars consisted of a mix of 9 Class 117R and 24 CPC-1232 Class 111 tank cars. There were no injuries reported. The temperature at the time was about −19°C.

The head-end 23 tank cars derailed east of the crossing and came to rest in various positions in a large pile over a distance of approximately 500 feet. About 20 of the 23 tank cars sustained breaches, released product and became engulfed in a large pool fire which burned for approximately 24 hours.

Preliminary examination of the 23 cars suggests that about 19 of the cars lost their entire loads releasing an estimated 1.5 million litres of product to either the ground or atmosphere. The derailed tank cars were jacketed according to current regulations. A more precise determination of the tank car damage and the amount of product released will be made as product is recovered and the investigation progresses. No waterways appear to be affected.

The tail end 10 cars derailed west of the crossing, sustained minimal damage and remained intact with no loss of product.  

Ongoing work

Mechanical and track components recovered from the derailment were examined and components of interest were sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory in Ottawa for detailed analysis.

There were no mechanical defects observed that could be considered causal. A review of the locomotive event recorder download determined that the train was handled in accordance with regulatory and company requirements and there were no operating anomalies observed that could be considered as causal. Therefore, the investigation will focus primarily on the Sutherland Subdivision track infrastructure and maintenance activities.

Safety communications


Rail Safety Advisory 617-02/20: Modifying key train speed based on various train risk profiles


Rail Safety Advisory 617-03/20: Enhanced track standards for key routes

Media materials

Deployment notice


TSB deploys a team of investigators to a train derailment near Lanigan, Saskatchewan

Winnipeg, Manitoba, 9 December 2019 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to the site of a derailment involving a Canadian Pacific Railway train near Lanigan, Saskatchewan. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

Investigation information

Map showing the location of the occurrence


Photo of Jerry Berriault

Jerry Berriault has been with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) since 2007. He is a senior regional investigator, Central Region, based out of the Winnipeg, Manitoba, office.

Among other responsibilities, he has been the Investigator-in-charge of eight rail accident investigations and served as a team member in a number of other investigations throughout Canada providing operational and technical expertise.

Before joining the TSB, Mr. Berriault held numerous positions with Canadian National Railway (CN) from 1980 until 2007, including superintendent of operations. While at CN, he gained extensive knowledge of all aspects of train operations, including both the mechanical and engineering functions.


  Download high-resolution photos from the TSB Flickr page.

Class of investigation

This is a class 3 investigation. These investigations analyze a small number of safety issues, and may result in recommendations. Class 3 investigations are generally completed within 450 days. For more information, see the Policy on Occurrence Classification.

TSB 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 air, marine, pipeline, and rail 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.