Tilley, AB: Multiple factors identified as causes of crossing accident

29 Aug

In its investigation report Canada’s Safety Board (TSB) identifies multiple factors leading to the collision between a truck and a train on a level crossing in Tilley, Alberta on January 19th, 2013
Factors identified are the truck driver’s unfamiliarity with the route he was travelling, a lack of compelling audio and visual cues at the crossing, and a restricted view from the truck’s cab. The truck driver and two train crew members sustained minor injuries.

On 19 January 2013, a Canadian Pacific train was travelling eastward while a northbound tractor-trailer loaded with petroleum crude oil was approaching a railway crossing in Tilley, Alberta. The crossing was protected with standard reflectorized crossing signs. The locomotive crew sounded the horn and bell and the train’s headlights were on, as required by regulation. Realizing that the tractor-trailer was not stopping, the train crew applied the emergency brakes, but the train could not stop in time and thus collided with the tractor-trailer. The crude oil in the trailer caught fire and engulfed both the tractor-trailer and the lead locomotive, causing extensive damage. The train did not derail.

The TSB investigation found that the truck driver was unfamiliar with the route to the intended destination. The driver was briefed verbally, but was not provided with detailed information on the route and was not advised to avoid specific railway crossings. As well, the view from the tractor trailer’s cab and the angle at which the tracks crossed the road made it difficult to see the approaching eastbound train. Furthermore, the investigation determined that vehicle drivers may not stop if there are no compelling visual or audio cues at a crossing, or if the locomotive horn is configured or placed in a way that reduces its sound output, as was the case in this accident.

Since the occurrence, all drivers employed at the trucking company have attended a driver improvement course and two railway crossing safety workshops. The tanker trailer owner circulated railway crossing safety bulletins and discussed them at company safety meetings. In addition, Transport Canada will undertake research on the audibility of train horns.

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