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Rail News: Canadian Pacific

TSB: Broken heel block assembly behind CP train derailment


The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) announced that a broken heel block assembly led to the derailment of a Canadian Pacific train that destroyed a bridge over 40 Mile Creek near Banff, Alberta, in December 2014.

The train derailed 15 cars on the Laggan Subdivision, when the end of the north switched point rail fractured in the heel block assembly. Rail cars loaded with fly ash, soybeans and lentils derailed, spilling product into the waterway, the agency announced last week.

No injuries were reported in the Dec. 26, 2014, incident; however, a crew member sought medical attention for fly ash inhalation.

The TSB determined that the heel block assembly had been weakened by looseness in the joint, which occurred over time. Although regular inspections were performed in compliance with regulatory and railroad requirements, they did not identify the heel block assembly's deteriorating condition prior to the derailment, TSB officials said.

If loose joints cannot be determined in a timely manner, the resulting relative movement in the joint will increase over time, which will increase the risk of cracks in the rail leading to broken-rail derailments, they said.

The agency also said crew members need to discuss hazards associated with the commodities carried before or during an inspection of derailed cars in order to address the risk to crew members and emergency responders.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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