Paynton, SK: Diminished effectiveness of locomotive horn contributed to fatal accident

14 Aug

The Transportation Safety Board  of Canada (TSB) has released its investigation report (R13E0015) into the January 24th, 2013 collision between a Canadian National (CN) freight train and a road grader at a level crossing near Paynton, Saskatchewan. The driver of the road grader was killed in the accident. The locomotive and 16 tank cars carrying dangerous goods derailed. Approximately 106 000 litres of crude oil was released from 4 cars.

At 08:56 CST, an eastbound CN freight train struck a stationary road grader at a public level crossing. As the train approached the crossing, the engine bell was activated and the engine horn was sounded several times. Unable to stop in time, the train collided with the road grader.

The TSB investigation found that the road grader driver’s attention was likely focused on resetting the blades for snow clearing in the vicinity of the crossing, and did not detect the approaching train from the west. The investigation also determined that the placement and orientation of the horn on the locomotive, coupled with the sound levels within the cab of the road grader, resulted in the driver of the road grader having less than 2 seconds of audible warning.

On November 21st, 2013, the TSB issued a Rail Safety Advisory (RSA 14/13) related to the reduced effectiveness of the locomotive horn when the locomotive is operated with the long hood leading (i.e., reverse orientation). In reply, Transport Canada (TC) has asked the Transportation Development Centre to undertake a research project pertaining to the audibility of locomotive horns. The aim of this research project is to analyze the locomotive horn’s effectiveness under conditions similar to those of the accident.

 

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