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Rail News: Safety

CP accident investigation stresses need for two safety enhancements, TSB says


The investigation report into a May 2013 collision between two Canadian Pacific trains east of Dunmore, Alberta, acknowledges the need for action on two of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's (TSB) safety "watchlist" items, board members announced yesterday.

The just-released report stresses the importance of following rail signal indications and implementing onboard video and voice recorders, TSB officials said in a press release.

On May 18, 2013, a westbound CP train approaching Dunmore passed a stop signal and struck the side of an eastbound CP train that was leaving the city. Two locomotives and four cars derailed, and other cars were damaged.

The investigation found that the westbound train's crew likely was distracted from properly understanding the wayside signals due to the demands of other operational tasks, TSB members said. Because these accidents continue to occur, the board has called for additional physical safety defenses to ensure that rail signal indications governing operating speed or operating limits are consistently recognized and followed, they said.

The investigation also shows that until locomotive in-cab video and voice recorders are installed on lead locomotives, there is a risk that valuable information will continue to be unavailable to investigators, TSB members said. That's why the board has called on the rail industry to ensure communications in the locomotive cab are recorded, they said. The TSB also aims to work with railroads and Transport Canada to remove any legislative barriers that would prevent the installation of the devices.

Canadian Pacific supports the TSB's conclusion with respect to cab monitoring technology and backs its call for the implementation of the in-cab devices both for post-accident analysis and in-train operations to prevent accidents, CP officials said in a press release.

"The technology has proven effective in analyzing the cause of railroad accidents, but its true value is in preventing incidents in the first place," said CP President and Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel. "We reiterate our call for the correct implementation of this tool, which has lowered the frequency of collisions by almost half in similar industries."

After U.S. transit agencies implemented monitoring technology, the National Transit Database noted the following safety improvements: a 40 percent reduction in collisions per million miles traveled; a 30 percent reduction in passenger injuries; a 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in unsafe driving events; and an overall reduction in the severity of collisions. But the TSB acknowledged that the Canadian Transportation and Safety Board Act is a barrier to the implementation of cab monitoring systems in Canada, CP officials said.

"When this technology can be implemented elsewhere and lead to such remarkable improvements in public safety, the key question is why it wouldn't be put to use in locomotives, as well," said Creel.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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