Train’s hand brakes focus of ministerial order

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau has issued a ministerial order mandating that handbrakes must be applied to all trains that are stopped on a mountain grade after an emergency application of air brakes.

The ministerial order, put in place under provisions under the Railway Safety Act, takes effect immediately and will remain in place “as long as necessary,” Garneau said in a Feb. 8 statement.

The order was handed down four days after a deadly train derailment near Field, B.C., killed three crew members on a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train.

The CP train had been parked on a mountain grade with air brakes applied in emergency mode. Hand brakes were not applied.

Transportation Safety Board investigators said the train began to move on its own and derailed around 1 a.m.

Killed in the derailment were engineer Andrew Dockrell, conductor Dylan Paradis and trainee Daniel Waldenburger-Bulmer.

TSB investigators who attended the crash site confirmed that 99 grain cars and two locomotives derailed in the incident.

Only 13 hoppers cars and the tail-end locomotive remained on the track, TSB said in a Feb. 5 update.

The accident took place on a treacherous section of track between the Laggan Subdivisions Upper and Lower Spiral Tunnels, an area known among railroaders as one of the most challenging sections of track in North America.

“Our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the derailment near Field, British Columbia,” Garneau said in a statement.

“Transport Canada is conducting an investigation for the purpose of determining compliance with both the Canada Labour Code and the Railway Safety Act related to the Feb. 4, 2019, railway accident that resulted in the deaths of the three Canadian Pacific employees,” he added.

“The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is the lead federal agency responsible for investigating rail accidents for cause and contributing factors. I have appointed a Minister’s Observer who is keeping me apprised of their investigation.”


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