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Railroads need to be more diligent in reporting occurrences, TSB says

A review of reportable railway occurrences conducted by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has identified late and missing accident information from three examined railroads. Therefore, the board has issued a notice reminding railroads to be more diligent in reporting occurrences and to meet their regulatory obligations.

Reporting the occurrence information is mandatory and the board will consider enforcement action, if required, to address noncompliance, TSB officials said in a press release. The board regularly reviews its occurrence database to ensure data integrity and identify any potential safety issues.

The TSB recently completed data reviews for CN, Canadian Pacific and the former Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway and determined that a total of 254 occurrences involving those railroads were unreported or reported late to the board over a seven-year period. The board has communicated the results to the railroads and stressed their reporting obligations, TSB officials said.

"The majority of these occurrences were minor, and many involved rail yard operations, where there was limited damage and no injuries reported," they said. "These occurrences have now been entered into the [our] railway occurrence database."

The TSB plans to continue monitoring railway occurrence data. Going forward, the board expects the rail industry to report occurrences in a timely manner and in full compliance with regulations, TSB officials said.

All the occurrences were very minor derailments that caused very minimal damage, and none involved dangerous goods, CN officials said in an email. The additional occurrences increased the number of CN reportable accidents by only 3.4 percent over the seven-year period as reported, they said.

"The issue arose from the subjective TSB reporting requirement that derailments be reported if they result in damage to track or equipment that 'affects safe operation.' The issue has since been addressed by TSB changing its regulation in July 2014 to require all derailments to be reported, something that CN has advocated since 2007," CN official said.

CN will continue to focus on every safety incident as a leading indicator of potentially more serious accidents as part of its comprehensive safety management system, they said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/29/2014