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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

TSB: Worn car components contributed to 2014 train derailment


Worn components on a rail car led to the derailment and collision involving a CN train and a VIA Rail passenger train near Gananoque, Ontario, in August 2014, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) announced yesterday.

The incident caused no injuries, but did damage rail cars on both trains. The fuel tank on the VIA locomotive was punctured, releasing  about 1000 liters of diesel fuel. The last six cars on the CN train derailed, according to a TSB press release.

The TSB's investigation revealed that the CN train was proceeding east on the north main track of the CN Kingston Subdivision when it derailed east of Gananoque. The train crew made an emergency radio broadcast.

At about that same time, the VIA train was proceeding west on the south main track. After hearing CN's emergency broadcast, the VIA crew applied the emergency brake. As the two trains were slowing to a stop, a derailed central beam bulkhead flat car from the CN train hit the lead locomotive of the VIA train and scraped along the north side of the VIA locomotive and five passenger coaches.

The derailment occurred as a result of excessive truck hunting — the side-to-side movement of wheel sets within a freight-car truck — on the empty center beam bulkhead flat car. The excessive truck hunting in this case was influenced by the type of car, train speed and the worn condition of the constant contact side bearings (CCSB) and the friction wedge, as well as the truck type.

When inspectors perform a visual inspection of these rail cars, they look for contact between the CCSB and the car body underframe. In this case, the TSB determined that visual inspections alone may not have been enough.

In this incident and another similar derailment, certain older cars with worn and ineffective CCSBs are at risk of derailing due to excessive truck hunting.

About 48,000 bulkhead flatcars and center beam bulkhead flat cars throughout North America may be susceptible to truck hunting. As a result, the TSB is concerned that certain detector systems and visual inspection programs may not identify cars susceptible to truck hunting, which increases the risk of derailments.

After the derailment, both CN and Canadian Pacific reintroduced speed restrictions for empty center beam bulkhead flat cars. In addition, CN began upgrading the CCSBs on two series of center beam flat cars, TSB officials said.