Braking Defects Plague Canada’s Aging Grain Cars

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Source: Excerpted from a Railway Age post

GATINEAU, Canada – Hard-to-detect braking system defects have rendered Canada’s aging fleet of grain hoppers a safety hazard, says a former director of derailment investigations for the country’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB), the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. NTSB.

Ian Naish, who retired from the TSB in 2009, in a CBC interview posted May 15, declared, “The grain car fleet overall is quite defective.”

Naish’s warning followed his former employer’s Rail Safety Advisory Letter dated April 20, 2020, which said that the standard visual inspection of brake pipe connections and piston applications—the so-called “Number 1 Test” performed by car inspectors prior to trains departing originating yards—is unreliable and does not reveal a high percentage of malfunctioning railcar brakes.

Related post:
TSB Urges New Way to Test Train Brakes; Probe into Fatal Crash Continues

The TSB advisory emerged from the agency’s continuing investigation into a Feb. 4 , 2019 runaway and triple-fatality derailment of a Canadian Pacific grain train descending the steep grade connecting the Spiral Tunnels near Field, B.C. The investigation found that the train had passed the Number 1 test at Calgary’s Alyth Yard the day before, indicating that at least 95 percent of the train’s 112 grain cars had intact rigging and normal piston travel under the application and release of brake pipe air pressure.

In January, the TSB’s lead investigator on the incident urged the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to initiate a criminal investigation. “There is enough to suspect there’s negligence here, and it needs to be investigated by the proper authority,” TSB Senior Investigator Don Crawford told CBC News.

About the same time, a CP police officer quit the company, alleging that a “cover-up” by the railway prevented proper investigation by the CP’s police force. That officer subsequently joined the RCMP, which said at the time that it would review the case.

The entire post can be viewed by clicking HERE.

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