DORVAL, QC, June 12, 2014 /CNW/ -
On 7 January 2014, a Canadian National freight train was travelling from
Toronto, Ontario to Moncton, New Brunswick, with 122 cars, 3 head-end
locomotives and 1 remote locomotive. On the main track near Plaster
Rock, New Brunswick, 19 cars and the remote locomotive derailed. Nine
of these cars were carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas.
There were no crew injuries. Approximately 150 people near the accident
site were evacuated due to the resulting fire.
While passing by a Wayside Inspection System (WIS), the crew received an
alarm. Following normal procedures, the train was slowed down while
minimizing in-train forces. However, before the train stopped, the rail
cars began to derail resulting in a brake pipe separation and the
application of the emergency brakes. Once the train came to a full
stop, the conductor walked back towards the derailment site and found a
broken wheel on the 2nd axle of the 13th car. This axle had derailed, with both wheels positioned inside the
Work Completed to Date
TSB investigators and specialists from the TSB Engineering Lab have
completed the field phase of the investigation. This includes the
collection of the locomotive event recorder data, the results of
previous wayside inspections, initial train inspection, and inspection
of the track. The tank cars were photographed and documented for
The broken wheel found at the occurrence site was documented and shipped
to the TSB Engineering Lab for testing. Information was collected from
the railway company, and officials and witnesses have been interviewed.
What We Know
The broken wheel failed due to fatigue. A crack initiated at a porosity
and travelled under the running surface of the wheel which caused a
shattered rim. The subject wheel was manufactured in 1991 and met the
material requirements for that time period. Wheels manufactured today
undergo an ultrasonic inspection of the tread area to check for areas
of porosity. This inspection procedure is carried out to detect and
prevent wheels with significant areas of porosity, such as found in the
subject wheel, from being placed into service.
Track damage occurred as a result of the derailed wheels battering the
base of the rail. Subsequently, multiple rail fractures were found
between the initial point of derailment and the derailment site.
Two of the tank cars were the primary source of the released oil that
created the fire. Both were older Class 111 tank cars, built in 1984
and 1996. The punctures in the head portion of the tank cars were most
likely due to impacts with the adjacent tank car coupler assembly.
Three CPC-1232 (design specification for Class 111 cars introduced in
2011) tank cars also derailed and were examined by the TSB team. One
car was essentially undamaged, while another car had some damage
associated with sliding on its side after derailing. Neither of these
tank cars released product. The third CPC-1232 car did not initially
release product. However, this car came to rest in the pool fire,
resulting in the eventual degradation of the bottom outlet valve gasket
and a small release of product.
Work continues as this ongoing investigation is in the examination and
analysis phase. Investigators will interview the train crew to confirm
further details. The team will review the history of the wheel as well
as its manufacturing process and look closely at the effectiveness and
adequacy of Wayside Inspection Systems and other inspection methods to
detect problems with wheels and axles in service. Lab work continues on
the detailed examination of the damage to tank cars in order to draw
conclusions about their performance. Once this phase is complete, the
report writing phase will commence.
Communication of Safety Deficiencies
Should the investigation team uncover safety deficiencies that present
an immediate risk, the Board will communicate them without delay so
they may be addressed quickly and the rail system made safer.
The information posted is factual in nature and does not contain any
analysis. Analysis of the accident and the Findings of the Board will
be part of the final report. The investigation is ongoing.
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.
SOURCE: Transportation Safety Board of Canada
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