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CP Derailment

cp rail derailmentOn February 4, 2019 the Canadian Pacific train 301 was involved in an unfortunate incident which resulted in the death of 3 Canadian Pacific employees. The derailment of 99 grain cars and 2 locomotives occurred in the interior of British Columbia is currently under investigation by the Transport Canada Transportation Safety Board (TSB). Although no official cause of the incident has been identified at this time, TSB officials have noted that the train was travelling beyond the maximum speed designated for this particular area of track. In the coming days, the TSB will continue to collect data, conduct interviews, and examine evidence in order to determine the ultimate cause of the accident.

Please note the following investigation report from the Transport Safety Board (https://www.tsb.gc.ca):


  • The train was a (distributed power) unit grain train composed of 112 covered hopper cars and 3 locomotives.
  • The 3 locomotives were positioned at the front, middle and rear of the train.
  • Following the derailment, only 13 cars and the tail end locomotive remained on the track.
  • The lead locomotive and some of the cars derailed on a curve prior to a bridge.
  • The lead locomotive came to rest on its side in a creek.
  • A number of derailed cars came to rest on an embankment.
  • The remaining cars, including the mid-train remote locomotive piled up behind.
  • The accident took place between the Upper and the Lower Spiral Tunnel near Field, BC


The investigation team has conducted the following information-gathering work:

  • Preliminary indications are that a loss of control of the train occurred.
  • The train had been stopped with the air brakes applied in emergency at Partridge, the last station prior to the entrance to the Upper Spiral Tunnel.
  • A change off between crews had occurred at this location as the previous crew were closing in on their maximum hours of service.
  • The occurrence crew had just arrived and boarded the train but were not yet ready to depart. The train had been stopped on the grade, with the airbrakes in emergency for about 2 hours when the train began to move on its own.
  • There were no hand brakes applied on the train. The train then accelerated to a speed well in excess of maximum track speed of 20 mph for the tight curves and steep mountain grade and the train derailed.
  • Locomotive event recorder data from the lead locomotive has not yet been obtained as the lead locomotive was severely damaged in the derailment.
  • Some data has been recovered from the tail-end remote locomotive and work is under way to obtain data from the mid-train remote locomotive.
  • The investigation will determine how and why the loss of control took place


While the derailment’s effect on cargo arrival into the Port of Vancouver is not currently clear, it is expected that there will be at least some minor disruption to the scheduled rail delivery over the coming weeks as Canadian Pacific works to clear the accident and effected railways.