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Transport Canada places train-length limit on CN to prevent derailments in B.C.


On Friday, Transport Canada announced it ordered Canadian National Railway Co. to limit train length to 80 cars when operating northbound trains between Squamish and Clinton, British Columbia, to prevent derailments.

Between Aug. 22 and Sept. 16, the agency reviewed the Class I’s inspection and safety procedures pertaining to covered railway equipment, operations and infrastructure after a CN train derailed north of Squamish on Aug. 5. Since that time, nine empty flat cars derailed in the same area Oct. 24 and 10 empty cars derailed north of Sunset Beach Nov. 3. The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the derailments.

Transport Canada ordered CN to provide a detailed analysis — focusing on train length, equipment, track conditions and speed — of distributed power train operations in the Squamish area and a comprehensive risk assessment of any changes made to BC Rail’s operating procedures.

CN is attempting to address Transport Canada’s immediate concerns and has developed an action plan, which the agency plans to review and make public by early December.

“I am concerned about CN’s overall safety performance and I have written to senior officials at CN to express those concerns,” said Transport Minister Jean Lapierre in a prepared statement. “I’ve made it clear if corrective actions aren’t taken by the company, I could call a public inquiry into CN’s operations.”