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TC Response to TSB Recommendations R07-01 and R07-02 - Wabamun, Alberta - August 3, 2005
Published: January 16, 2008
Source: Transport Canada
 


January 10, 2008

Ms. Wendy A. Tadros
Chairperson
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
200 Promenade du Portage
Place du Centre, 4th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1K8

Dear Ms. Tadros:

SUBJECT: FINAL RAIL INVESTIGATION REPORT R05E0059
FREIGHT TRAIN DERAILMENT
WABAMUN, ALBERTA - 03 AUGUST 2005


I am writing in response to your letter of October 22, 2007, which contained Transportation Safety Board recommendations R07-01 and R07-02. These recommendations were made as a result of the investigation into the derailment of a Canadian National (CN) freight train at mile 49.4 of the Edson Subdivision near Wabamun, Alberta on August 3, 2005.

I am pleased to provide you with a response as required under subsection 24(6) of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation Safety Board Act.

Yours truly,

Original signed by
The Honorable Lawrence Cannon, P.C., M.P.

Enclosure

TRANSPORT CANADA’S RESPONSE TO TSB RECOMMENDATIONS R07-01
AND R07-02 - TSB FINAL INVESTIGATION REPORT R05E0029 - FREIGHT
TRAIN DERAILMENT IN WABAMUN, ALBERTA ON AUGUST 3, 2005


From the TSB Final Report - Rail Testing, Inspection, and Maintenance:

The Railway Track Safety Rules do not provide any guidance on fatigue life, nor are there common industry standards for rail life based on accumulated tonnage and the properties of the steel.

CN has developed its own Rail Defect Tracking System (RDTS), which is, in part, able to track the history of maintenance rails. Maintenance rails are selected based on observed wear and conformity to the profile of the parent rail. Neither the quality of steel nor the accumulated tonnage is factored into this decision.

In this occurrence, a maintenance rail failed because it had reached the end of its fatigue life. Because of the way the defects developed in the rail, they could not be identified by the available inspection tools. The rail was installed because it matched the profile of the parent rail; no consideration was given to matching the steel specification of the maintenance rail with the parent rail.

Inspection programs are the primary defence against rail fractures. Recognizing the limitations of existing inspection tools, there is a requirement for additional strategies to ensure that maintenance rails are not installed where they are likely to have a shorter fatigue life than the parent rail.

Taking into account the risk of undetected defect development and premature failure of maintenance rails, the Board recommends that:

“The Department of Transport establish minimum standards for the quality and strength of maintenance rails.” (R07-01)

Current TC rules focus primarily on geometric criteria and there is no requirement to establish the fatigue life of rails. Furthermore, there are no common industry guidelines for rail life based on accumulated tonnage, defects or steel quality. In the absence of industry standards for rail fatigue life, rails can remain in track beyond their fatigue limit. This increases the risk of sudden rail failure and derailment. Therefore, the Board recommends that:

“The Department of Transport establish standards requiring that rails approaching their fatigue limit be replaced.” (R07-02)

Transport Canada’s Response to R07-01 and R07-02

Transport Canada (TC) has already started work with industry to develop a long-term strategy to modernize the Track Safety Rules that will take into consideration the establishment of standards for the quality and strength of maintenance rails and for rails approaching their fatigue limit be replaced.


TSB REPORT

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigated this occurrence for the purpose of advancing transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

Railway Investigation Report
Derailment
Canadian National
Freight Train M30351-03
Mile 49.4, Edson Subdivision
Wabamun, Alberta
03 August 2005

Report Number R05E0059

Synopsis
On 03 August 2005, at 0509 mountain daylight time, Canadian National freight train M30351-03, proceeding westward from Edmonton, Alberta, to Vancouver, British Columbia, derailed 43 cars, including 1 loaded car of pole treating oil, 1 car of toluene (UN 1294), and 25 loaded cars of Bunker C (heavy fuel oil) at Mile 49.4 of the Edson Subdivision near Wabamun, Alberta. Approximately 700 000 litres of Bunker C and 88 000 litres of pole treating oil were spilled, causing extensive property, environmental, and biological damage. About 20 people were evacuated from the immediate area. There were no injuries.



 

 
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