Ottawa, ON: TSB investigation leads to changed procedures

13 Oct

The Transportation Safety Board’s investigation report (R13Q0012) released last week of the May 2013 collision between a VIA Rail train and a tractor-trailer at a private level crossing in Québec, Québec occurred when the train was proceeding through the crossing while the manually controlled barrier protecting the crossing was in the up position.  There were no injuries.

On May 2nd, 2013, a VIA Rail train, was travelling in reverse between Gare du Palais and the Limoilou Yard in Québec.   There were two crew members – the 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 on 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.

The investigation found that when the truck started the 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 barrier 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.

Following the occurrence, VIA Rail Canada Inc. amended its procedures so that trains no longer stop upon exiting Gare du Palais and changed its refuelling point to move it away from the level crossing.. Transport Canada has entered into discussions 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 location.

The full TSB report can be accessed at:

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