Canadian Manufacturing

Runaway trains rampant since 2000 but seldom made public

An investigative report has found only nine of 459 runaway-related occurrences—or about two per cent—have been fully investigated by the TSB



TORONTO—Canada’s public broadcaster the CBC is reporting that incidents of runaway trains have occurred at almost triple the rate made public the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).

Referred to as runaway rolling stock, the CBC has uncovered more than 300 unreported cases between 2000 and 2012. TSB annual reports during this time have only acknowledged 158, according to the CBC.

The most recent—and horrendous—of these cases is the runaway and subsequent derailment in Lac Megantic, Que., but also include harrowing close calls such as a train rolling uncontrolled for 24 kilometres, reaching a speed of 100 kilometres an hour near Sept-Iles, Que., and a train consisting of 33 CN cars which escaped from a yard near Edmonton and traveled unattended five kilometres onto a main line.

Whats shocking is that so few of these instances are recorded as runaways. Indeed, the terrible derailment at Lac Megantic would not, under the current reporting standards, be counted as a runaway incident.

But CBC reports only nine of the 459 runaway-related occurrences—or about two per cent—have been fully investigated by the TSB, the independent agency charged with finding ways to make the rail industry safer.

Read more on this story, Runaway trains almost triple the reported rate, at CBC’s website.

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