Highway crews saw washed-out road a day before train derailment: TSB

Almost a day before a train derailed north of Hudson Bay in July due to a washout, highway crews investigating nearby Highway 9 found a partial washout.

“At this location, the rail line is not visible from the highway,” read a Transportation Safety Board report about the July 5 derailment of the Via Rail passenger train. “There was no specific indication to the highway employees that the downstream railway infrastructure could be affected by the partial washout.”

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The report was released Jan. 21.

The crew was at the highway at around 9 am July 4. The derailment happened at 3:06 am July 5. There were 16 passengers and five crew members on board, with two crew members injured.

Canadian National told the train crew to be on the lookout for high water levels when they left Canora at 10:54 pm, the report said. At 02:53 am, the crew reported there was high water along the track. Later, at 3:05 am, with the train moving at 35 miles per hour, the crew again concerns about water at slowed the train down. One minute later, going at 33 miles per hour, the train encountered a track washout caused by heavy rains and derailed.

After the incident, CN modified its warning system to tell trains if there’s a certain amount of water on the ground due to rain, increased the number of patrols in front of trains if there’s been lots of rain over multiple days, and increased the number of patrols to monitor drainage if weather reports predict more than 40 millimetres of continuous rain in an area or if there’s a severe weather advisory.

The Transportation Safety Board also recommend that there’s more communications between highway and railway authorities.

“In locations where railway and road authority infrastructure shares a common drainage basin, it is critical that the authorities have communication protocols in place for the sharing of information relating to the protection of the infrastructure.”

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