Newspaper article The Canadian Press

TSB Calls for Re-Evaluation of Speed Limits for Trains Carrying Oil

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

TSB Calls for Re-Evaluation of Speed Limits for Trains Carrying Oil

Article excerpt

TSB calls for rethink of freight train speeds

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Current speed limits for Canada's oil-carrying freight trains may be too high to prevent serious accidents and should be re-evaluated, the Transportation Safety Board said Thursday as it released the findings of its investigation into a fiery 2015 derailment in northern Ontario.

The TSB said its review of the incident that dumped 1.7 million litres of crude oil into the local ecosystem has raised concerns about the existing Transport Canada rules, particularly as they apply to older train cars that are expected to continue carrying oil and other potentially dangerous goods for years to come.

The February 2015 derailment in a remote, wooded area near Gogama, Ont., about 80 kilometres south of Timmins, Ont., sent 29 cars hurtling off the tracks.

No one was injured, but the TSB said the crash breached 19 cars, causing the massive oil spill and igniting fires that burned for five days.

At a press conference in Sudbury, Ont., on Thursday the board said the derailment was caused when two joint bars used to connect pieces of rail failed.

The TSB attributed the failure in part to poor maintenance practices, but said speed also played a role.

TSB Chair Kathy Fox said the train was travelling at 61 kilometres an hour at the time of the derailment, three kilometres below the 64-kilometre maximum set for that stretch of track.

"The TSB is concerned that currently permitted speeds are too high for key trains transporting Class 3 flammable liquids," Fox said.

"We are recommending that Transport Canada study all factors that increase the severity of derailments involving dangerous goods, including speed, that Transport Canada develop mitigating strategies, and then amend the rules accordingly."

Transport Canada currently allows freight trains carrying dangerous goods to travel at a maximum speed of 80 kilometres an hour everywhere, and at a maximum of 64 kilometres per hour through densely populated areas and where dangerous goods are being transported in older tank cars in higher risk zones.

Rob Johnston, the TSB's manager for central regional operations, said the Gogama derailment was reminiscent of the 2013 crash in Lac Megantic, Que. …

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