The letter called into question the effectiveness of the No. 1 brake test, which the train had passed prior to departing Calgary, heading towards Field. (CP Rail photo)

Train brake test called into question by TSB after fatal Field derailment probe

The derailment, which occured in Feb. 2019, killed three crew members

The effectiveness of the No. 1 brake test, which is conducted on trains to ensure they are up to safety regulations to operate, has been called into question recently by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).

The TSB released a letter, which was issued on April 17, 2020, is a part of the ongoing investigation into the CP train derailment that occurred near Field on Feb. 4, 2019, fatally injuring conductor Dylan Paradis, engineer Andrew Dockrell and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer.

Read more: TSB released update on Field derailment investigation

“Given this information, Transport Canada (TC) is advised that an alternate approach to determining the effectiveness of freight car air brakes is required to ensure that departing trains have sufficient effective brakes to operate safely,” the board wrote.

“The TSB would appreciate being advised of TC’s position on this issue, and what action, if any, will be taken in this regard.”

The train involved in the derailment was a distributed power train with one lead, one mid and one tail-end locomotive, had received and passed a No. 1 brake test before departing Calgary and heading toward Field.

A review of CP’s Health and Safety Committee hazard notifications revealed multiple instances of crews controlling speed descending the Field Hill in winter operating conditions.

According to these hazard notifications, there were issues with air brake performance on other unit grain trains travelling the same line, all of which had passed the No. 1 brake test.

Read more: Runaway rail car reported on same train line as fatal 2019 derailment near Field

To pass the No. 1 brake test, the regulations require that at least 95 per cent of air brakes to be operative on trains departing designated safety inspection locations. The actual brake force or its effect is not physically measured.

The TSB has advised TC that the No. 1 brake test does not reliably identify ineffective brakes in rail cars.

TC has not yet responded to the letter, although they are not required to do so. According to a TC spokeswoman Frederica Depuis, the ministry is reviewing the letter.

“Rail safety is the top priority for the minister of transport and the department is continuously looking for ways to make our railway system safer for Canadians,” she said.

“We share the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s commitment to advancing the safety of Canada’s transportation system and are committed to working with our partners to further enhance the safety of Canada’s railway system.”

Read more: RCMP to review fatal Field train derailment investigation after evidence points to ‘cover up’

The investigation is still ongoing, with a full investigation report expected upon completion.

The derailment became a national story earlier this year, when it became the source of a fifth-estate investigation through the CBC. Golden resident and former CP Police Service officer has been critical of CP’s processes that led to the derailment, believing an internal cover-up cut his investigation into the derailment short.

~ With files from The Canadian Press


Claire Palmer
Editor for the Golden Star
Email me at claire.palmer@thegoldenstar.net
Follow me on Twitter

Transportation Safety Board

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

BC SPCA team helps discover new feline virus after outbreak at Quesnel shelter

Fechavirus is a kind of parvovirus, which makes cats and kittens very sick

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Commercial salmon fisheries delayed for Bella Coola area

DFO notice says Area C gill net fisheries in Area 8 have been delayed until June 15

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Most Read