Canadian Railroad Revises Safety Procedures After 2013 Train-Truck Collision

No one was hurt in the May 2013 collision at a private grade crossing.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) on Oct. 6 released an investigation report about a May 2, 2013, collision of a VIA Rail Canada Inc. train and a tractor-trailer at a private grade crossing in Quebec. The train was passing through the crossing while the manual gate meant to stop traffic was up, according to its report. No one was injured in the collision.

The passenger train was moving in reverse between a station and a train yard, with two crew members, the operating locomotive engineer in the lead locomotive and the in-charge locomotive engineer on the ground, who was supervising the reverse movement. "Instructions were being communicated to the locomotive engineer by radio. The collision occurred at the private level crossing leading to the Papiers White Birch paper mill. The last passenger car was damaged and the tractor-trailer was destroyed. About 300 litres of diesel fuel from the tractor-trailer's fuel tank spilled on the ground," according to TSB. Its investigation found that when the tractor-trailer began to turn to enter the paper mill, "the manual gates at the crossing were up, and the traffic light controlling access to the plant was indicating that traffic could proceed. Noting that another truck had stopped on the paper mill side, the in-charge locomotive engineer concluded that the manual gate was down, and then informed the operating locomotive engineer that the crossing was protected while it was not. The guard who operates the crossing gates did not immediately recognize the need to lower the gates to protect the crossing, as the view of the train was partially obstructed and the refueling operation had taken less time than usual."

As a result of this incident, VIA Rail Canada Inc. amended its procedures so that trains no longer stop upon exiting this station and changed its refueling point to move it away from the crossing. Also, Transport Canada is discussing with the City of Quebec, the Papiers White Birch paper mill, and Canadian National to improve the traffic light and crossing protection systems at this crossing.

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