OHS Canada Magazine

Summer derailment, collisions yield Transport Canada rail-yard orders

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October 25, 2016
By Jeff Cottrill

Compliance & Enforcement Health & Safety Transportation Canadian Pacific Rail CN montreal occupational health and safety Quebec rail safety Transport Canada

CN, CP ordered to make Montreal yards safer

(Canadian OH&S News) — Three incidents in rail yards in west Montreal over the summer have resulted in safety orders to the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). While CN has said that it complied with two notices from Transport Canada (TC), CP is currently appealing the order it received.

Two minor collisions occurred in CN’s Taschereau Yard during the first half of July, according to an order summary on TC’s website. TC inspectors found that the accidents had been connected to the common practice of “kicking” railway cars when slowing down. Kicking refers to detaching a rail car and letting it roll to a stop on its own.

TC deemed that Taschereau’s procedures and measures were not sufficient to prevent uncontrolled movement or to ensure that equipment did not move onto the wrong track. On July 15, TC issued two orders to CN, instructing the company to do the following:

— clarify locations on tracks where “anchor” cars, or cars that are not in motion, will be secured before kicking other cars into them;
— document the movement of secured anchor cars from the previous location before lifting the cars;
— report any incident in which an uncontrolled car moves onto another track to TC; and
— never kick cars if a crew is situated at the other end, unless the crew is aware of what is happening and no workers or equipment will be affected by a car that moves out of the intended path.

“We did get the orders,” said Patrick Waldron, CN’s spokesperson for eastern Canada, “and we have complied.”


But TC has yet to withdraw the order as completed as of Oct. 24, according to the online summary.

On Aug. 20, there was a derailment at CP’s St-Luc Yard. “A Transport Canada railway safety inspector followed up with an inspection,” said Natasha Gautier, senior media-relations advisor with TC. “They determined that there was an immediate threat to rail safety and subsequently issued a notice and order.”

The order, dated Aug. 23, targeted CP’s use of track skates to halt rail cars during kicking. TC stated that the practice increased the likelihood of cars rolling out of control, creating a potential risk to the safety of employees, equipment and the environment.

TC ordered the company to cease using track skates to stop the motion of kicked cars, employ handbrakes to secure any cars intended to receive cars cut in motion and make sure that any employees involved in switching operations verify the presence of equipment visually before cars are cut in motion.

Jeremy Berry, director of media relations with CP, said that the corporation was complying with the order for the time being, but seeking revocation of it.

“CP is appealing the order and cannot comment further,” he said.

TC’s website confirmed that CP had filed a “request for review” with the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada on Sept. 23. The hearing dates are set for Nov. 16 and 17.


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