Canadian regulators urged to review rules after train disaster

19 July 2013 21:58  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) on Friday asked regulators to review rules regarding hand braking of unattended trains and to ensure that trains carrying dangerous goods are not left unattended on a main track.

The TSB sent two letters to Transport Canada (TC), the government department that regulates the country's railroads, two weeks after the deadly 5 July crash in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, that left an estimated 42 people dead and 8 people still missing.

The Montreal, Main & Atlantic Railway (MMA) train was carrying 100 tons of crude oil when it exploded.

The TSB has been conducting an investigation into the cause of the incident.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the train arrived in Nantes on 5 July at about 23:00 Quebec time, and a fire was reported to the rail traffic controller at about 23:50. The engine was shut down, and the fire was extinguished. On 6 July, the train started to move at about 00:56 and derailed in Lac-Mégantic about 01:14.

In one letter to Transport Canada, the TSB said the train was parked in Nantes on a 1.2% decline and that the hand brakes applied were "insufficient to hold the train". Applying the brakes is a standard rule as mandated by Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) Rule 112, but the rule does not specify the minimum number of hand brakes required under specific conditions such as heavy loads parked on a decline, the letter stated.

Also, the effectiveness of the braking system can vary by design, condition and maintenance of the system, as well as by the torque applied by the person who engages the hand break, the letter stated.

In another letter, the TSB urged TC to review rules that allowed the MMA train to be left unattended on the main track with an unlocked locomotive cab and parked alongside a public highway with no additional protection.

By: Jeremy Pafford
+1 713 525 2653

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