CP disputes TSB report on 2019 fatal derailment

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by Emily Atkins

CP Rail says the Transportation Safety Board misrepresented the facts around the 2019 train derailment in British Columbia that killed three CP employees. In the incident, a train with 99 grain cars and two locomotives ran away on a grade near Field, B.C. and went off a bridge.

The railroad issued a statement after the TSB presented the findings of its investigation into the incident at a press conference on March 31. CP said it “was extremely disappointing that the TSB misrepresented the facts at today’s news conference and misunderstood key facts about the incident”.

CP asserted that the TSB was inaccurate in describing what happened on the locomotive when the relief crew arrived to relieve the inbound crew. It said that the timing of the handbrake application was not immediate, as the TSB said, but took place well after the crew had boarded the train.

The railway also said the decisions that the crew made were based on “the collective knowledge and experience of everyone involved”. Both the locomotive engineers of the inbound crew and the relief crew were fully trained, qualified and certified, and were well-experienced in the handling of trains on mountain grades. It also noted that they followed the appropriate procedures established by “running trades employees, Transport Canada and company management in the wake of previous incidents more than two decades ago.”

CP also said that the TSB’s conclusion that the train showed poor braking performance was made by “inappropriate extrapolation of data and unsupported inferences”. The TSB report showed that the train was functioning properly, met industry standards and had passed all required brake inspections.

The railway said it will address these concerns directly with the TSB.

A separate RCMP inquiry continues.