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
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
200 Promenade du Portage
Place du Centre, 4th Floor
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
Original signed by
The Honorable Lawrence Cannon, P.C., M.P.
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
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.
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
Freight Train M30351-03
Mile 49.4, Edson Subdivision
03 August 2005
Report Number R05E0059
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.