Canadian Manufacturing

Human error led to a runaway train car in Regina, says TSB

In March 2016, a train car carrying asphalt rolled away from its locomotive after the air brakes gave way; crews failed to apply the hand brakes and left the car unattended

March 21, 2017  by Canadian Staff

WINNIPEG—The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) announced Mar. 21 that inadequate securement and insufficient employee supervision led to a train car rolling away from its locomotive, an incident that occurred in Regina on Mar. 1 2016.

While a Cando Rail Services crew was switching cars loaded with asphalt at the Co-op Refinery in Regina, one of the cars rolled away uncontrolled.

The train car, which travelled 4.3 km before coming to rest, reached a speed of 30 km/h and traversed seven public crossings and a railway interlocking.

Fortunately, the grade crossing warning system at each of the seven crossings functioned as required, protecting the roadway traffic, and there were no injuries or dangerous goods involved.


The investigation determined that the incident occurred when the crew left the car unattended, secured only by emergency air brakes. These slowly lost pressure until they released, allowing the car to roll away.

In addition to leaving the car unsupervised, the crew also failed to apply the hand brakes. They did attempt to catch the runaway car with their locomotive, but they weren’t successful.

Most uncontrolled railway movements in Canada are directly related to securement issues.

Following the 2013 Lac-Mégantic accident, the TSB recommended that Transport Canada (TC) require Canadian railways to put additional physical defences in place to prevent runaway equipment.

Although TC revised the rules regarding train securement, TSB says that the number of runaway equipment occurrences due to inadequate train securement had increased, from 21 in 2014 to 33 in 2015. There were 27 in 2016.

Following the incident, Cando Rail Services issued a system-wide bulletin requiring that all equipment have the minimum number of hand brakes applied, even if attended by an employee.

Print this page

Related Stories