CP mainline through Rockies reopened after crash

(File photo by Dave Bedard)

Canadian Pacific Railway’s mainline through the Rocky Mountains has reopened to traffic following a grain train derailment that killed three railroaders Monday.

Calgary-based CP announced late Friday its mainline through Field, B.C. was reopened at midday Wednesday “in close collaboration with Transport Canada, and upon completion of all necessary safety checks.”

Meanwhile, CP said Friday, its crews and contractors “continue to work diligently in challenging conditions to remove the damaged rail cars and equipment” from the crash site.

That work is being done “in concert with Parks Canada” and other agencies, the company said.

The company also said Friday it’s “unable to comment further at this time” given the ongoing investigation by the federal Transportation Safety Board into Monday’s crash.

The crash occurred in the early hours of Feb. 4 after a westbound train of 112 grain hopper cars with three locomotives stopped for a crew change before the entrance to the Upper Spiral Tunnel near Field, about 20 km west of Lake Louise, Alta.

The train’s new crew — who CP identified Monday as conductor Dylan Paradis, engineer Andrew Dockrell and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer — had boarded but weren’t yet ready to depart when the train, which had its emergency brakes applied, “began to move on its own,” the TSB said Tuesday.

There were no handbrakes applied on the train, which accelerated to a speed well over the 32 km/h limit for the track’s steep grade and tight curves in the area, the TSB said.

The lead locomotive and some of the cars derailed on a curve prior to a bridge between the Upper and Lower Spiral Tunnels, the TSB said. Only 13 cars and the tail-end locomotive remained on the track after the derailment.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Friday the TSB is leading his department’s investigation “for the purpose of determining compliance with both the Canada Labour Code and the Railway Safety Act.”

Transport Canada, he said, has issued a ministerial order “as a precaution until such time that the exact cause of the accident is determined,” requiring all railway companies to use handbrakes “should a train be stopped on a mountain grade after an emergency use of the air brakes.”

The order, he said Friday, goes into effect immediately “and will remain in effect as long as necessary.”

CP, in its statement late Friday, noted it will “fully comply” with Garneau’s order. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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