Rail news release 2008

TSB # R01/2008

THE TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD OF CANADA IDENTIFIES SAFETY DEFICIENCIES WITH 36-INCH CANADIAN NATIONAL TRANSCONA WHEEL SHOP WHEEL SETS

(Gatineau, Quebec, June 5, 2008) - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its final investigation report (R06T0022) today into the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) train derailment near Buckskin, Ontario, on January 31, 2006.

A CPR freight car derailed when a wheel became loose while negotiating a curve and migrated inboard on its axle, causing both wheels to drop between the rails. While in service between October 2004 and the derailment date, undetected damage to the wheel and its mounting point on the axle occurred, leading to micro-movement that progressively loosened the wheel until a combination of lateral and rotational forces displaced the wheel inboard.

The loosened wheel set was produced using a modified wheel boring process in use between April 1998 and February 2001 at the Canadian National (CN) Transcona wheel shop. Approximately 43 000 wheel sets were produced using this process. The Board investigation determined that at least 18 Transcona wheel shop wheel sets caused derailments in Canada, and an unknown number outside of Canada, dating back to 2000. These wheel sets have a high susceptibility to loosen, particularly in heavy-curvature territory. The risk of failure for these remaining wheel sets continues to increase the longer they remain in service.

Therefore, the Board recommends that:

The Department of Transport ensure that all 36-inch Canadian National Transcona wheel shop wheel sets assembled between April 1998 and February 2001 be removed from cars operating in Canada.
(R08-01)

Because the industry has no effective way to track wheel sets once they are removed from their original car, wheel sets with potentially defective components cannot be easily located and removed from service before failure. The inability to quickly locate defective wheel set components increases the risk of a failure, which can lead to a derailment.

Therefore, the Board also recommends that:

The Department of Transport ensure that railways adopt procedures and technologies to track all wheel sets.
(R08-02)

On 31 January 2006, southward CPR freight train 230-30 derailed one car at Mile 114.65 of the MacTier Subdivision. The train continued at 45 mph to Mile 103.48 near Buckskin, Ontario, where it experienced an undesired emergency train brake application and 11 additional cars derailed. Approximately 400 feet of track, including the Buckskin Siding north turnout and signal structures, were destroyed and the preceding 11 miles of track was heavily damaged. There were no dangerous goods involved and no injuries.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

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The public report, R06T0022, photos and animation are also available on this site.


The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca