Government of Canada issues emergency safety directive regarding potentially faulty train wheels

    OTTAWA, June 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today issued an emergency safety
directive to Canadian National (CN) to identify and remove from use as quickly
as possible any potentially faulty train wheels from Canadian service by no
later than October 15, 2008.
    The suspect wheel sets were assembled at CN's Transcona wheel shop
between April 1, 1998, and February 28, 2001. The deadline provides CN with
the time required to track all the wheels on train cars throughout Canada.
    "The safety and security of Canadians is our number one priority, and our
government is acting to make our railways as safe as possible," said Minister
Cannon. "By issuing this emergency directive, I want to ensure every possible
measure is taken to prevent potential derailments related to faulty wheels."
    The emergency directive, which was issued under the Railway Safety Act,
also requires CN to provide Transport Canada with a monthly update on removal
of the wheel sets; to notify the department of all incidents of suspected
systemic failures of major components; and to put in place a system to record
and track major components, wheels, axles, roller bearings, draft gears and
couplers throughout their service life by December 13, 2008.
    The directive was issued in response to a railway investigation report
released by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) on June 5, 2008.
The report identified loose wheels as the cause of a Canadian Pacific Railway
(CPR) freight train derailment near Buckskin, Ontario, on January 31, 2006.
    "Our government is taking decisive action to improve rail safety in
Canada," said Minister Cannon. "We continue to take significant enforcement
actions to help address derailments and other safety issues by issuing notices
and orders, increasing physical inspections and performing audits of railway
safety management practices."
    The faulty wheels identified in the TSB report were mounted on a CP car
by CN's Transcona wheel shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The wheels had been
assembled using a modified boring process that caused the wheel to loosen when
the rail car was negotiating a curve.
    CN and the Association of American Railroads initiated a recall of the
potentially defective wheel sets in 2001. However, due to shortfalls in the
recall process, the industry as a whole was not able to target all suspect
wheel sets for removal until July 2006. The TSB estimates 10,000 to 12,000 of
the potentially faulty wheel sets may remain in service in North America.
    The TSB report included two recommendations: first, that Transport Canada
ensure all 36-inch CN Transcona wheel sets assembled between April 1998 and
February 2001 are removed from cars operating in Canada; and second, that
Transport Canada ensure railways adopt procedures and technologies to track
all wheel sets.
    In accordance with the Canadian Transportation Accident and Investigation
Safety Board Act, Transport Canada will provide a more detailed response to
the recommendations within 90 days.

For further information:

For further information: Karine White, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613)
991-0700; Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Transport
Canada is online at Subscribe to news releases and speeches at and keep up to date on the latest from Transport Canada;
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