Procedure gap led to 2018 South Stormont train collision: TSB

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from an error at the source to properly identify the location of the collision near Aultsville Road in South Stormont. Crysler is the name of the track control point and not the town of Crysler, Ont. The TSB report referred to the location as “Crysler, Ontario.”

INGLESIDE – The Transportation Safety Board says a “gap in track clearing procedures” contributed to a collision between a freight train and track maintenance equipment in 2018 in South Stormont.

In its report released today (Nov. 25), the TSB says the freight train was travelling through a work area around midnight on Oct. 2, 2018, while the maintenance equipment – a Unimat tamper which sets the train track bed – was being run on an adjacent track. It was operated by a trainee and supervised by a trainer.

“The investigation determined that the trainer was not aware that a train was approaching or that the tamping tools had been lifted and extended toward the adjacent track,” the TSB said.

The resulting side-to-side crash caused damage to safety equipment on both locomotives and three rail cars. Seven other cars had minor damage.

No one was injured.

Part of the problem was the piece of equipment was not on a Canadian National Railway list of equipment that needed to be cleared while other trains pass. Because of this, the sub-foreman did not call the tamper crew to clear the track.

“If safety-critical information is not accurate and disseminated effectively to all railway engineering employees, these employees may be unaware of changes to safe working practices, increasing the risk that they will inadvertently put themselves in harm’s way,” the TSB wrote.

Since the crash, the TSB issued a rail safety advisory to Transport Canada and asked it to review its procedures.

The Unimat tamper had since been added to the list of equipment for track clearing procedures. The tamper machines have also had labels added inside the cab, warning workers that the equipment can’t be operated when a train is passing on an adjacent track.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline and rail transportation mishaps and makes recommendations to prevent future occurrences.