Railway cars carrying sulphuric acid were not properly secured before Toronto derailment: TSB

Railway cars carrying sulphuric acid were not properly secured before Toronto derailment: TSB

Railway cars loaded with sulphuric acid were not property secured by crew members when they derailed at the Canadian Pacific Railway Company’s Toronto Yard in Scarborough in 2022, according to a newly released report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

On Thursday, the TSB released its investigation report into the “uncontrolled movement and derailment” of several cars in CP’s Toronto Yard back on March 13, 2022.

According to the report, about 103 rail cars ran uncontrolled for about 3,200 feet down a descending grade of track in the Toronto Yard, which is located near McCowan Road and Sheppard Avenue. 

The seven leading cars derailed and three were carrying sulphuric acid, the report noted. There were no leaks and no one was injured, according to the report.

“The investigation found that the force applied during the hand brake test was insufficient and not enough time was allowed for the slack between the cars to fully adjust before the emergency air brakes were applied,” the report read.

“Consequently, the hand brake effectiveness test was incomplete, and the crew were unaware that the number of hand brakes used to secure the cars was insufficient for the descending grade.”

The report went on to say that “location-specific guidance” was not provided to crews in instructions from CP, meaning that they were forced to rely on “their knowledge, experience, and judgment” to secure rolling stock.

The TBS said four “significant” uncontrolled movements have occurred at the Toronto Yard over the past five years, prompting it to issue a rail safety advisory letter to Transport Canada in March 2023. In the letter the TSB suggested that Transport Canada may wish to audit CP’s switching and car securement practices to ensure “adequate procedures are in place.”

Transport Canada subsequently conducted inspections and CP undertook safety actions after receiving a notice under Section 31 of the Railway Safety Act.

“CP introduced a revised operating bulletin to be used when securing rail equipment in the yard, as well as conducting further education, training, and safety blitzes for employees working at the yard,” the report read.

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