Brake failure, cold weather caused fatal B.C. derailment

Three Canadian Pacific Railway employees killed in the 2019 incident

Brake failure, cold weather caused fatal B.C. derailment

The locomotive’s brakes failed with prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, and this led to the fatal train derailment near the British Columbia-Alberta boundary in 2019, found the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

The agency on Thursday released the findings of its investigation into the incident that killed three Canadian Pacific Railway employees in February 2019. Conductor Dylan Paradis, engineer Andrew Dockrell and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer died in the incident.

The train was parked on a grade near Field, B.C., when it started rolling on its own, The Canadian Press reported, citing the findings. The train gained speeds far above the limit for the mountain pass.

Then, it derailed at a curve in the tracks. A total of 99 grain cars and two locomotives plummeted off a bridge.

An inbound train engineer had warned the trainmaster of brake system irregularities, but they were not seen as problematic, found the Transportation Safety Board.

The trainmaster’s training and experience did not adequately prepare him to evaluate the circumstances or to make decisions, according to the findings.

“The leakage of compressed air from the train’s air-brake system degraded the performance of the brakes in the extreme cold temperature,” reads the report.

“As a result, even though the inbound locomotive engineer had increased the amount of braking several times while going down Field Hill towards Partridge, the train’s speed continued to increase. When the speed reached 21 (miles per hour), the train crew applied the brakes in emergency.”

The safety board is now recommending Transport Canada to require train operators to install automatic parking brakes on freight cars, among other recommendations.

In February, Transport Canada published a Letter of Intent in the Canada Gazette, Part I, detailing a path forward to implement Enhanced Train Control technologies. Earlier, transport Canada has announced several changes to the Canadian Rail Operating Rules that will reduce the risk of uncontrolled movement of railway equipment.

RCMP is still investigating the incident.

The families of two of the three men killed in the rail incident filed a lawsuit last April, alleging negligence against Canadian Pacific, its CEO, board of directors, CP police and the federal minister of transport.

Previously, one worker was killed after being pinned under a rail car in Pickering in Durham, Ont.