A Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. freight train derailed near Banff, Alta., on Thursday, the third crash on the tracks west of Calgary since Jan. 3.
Ten loaded grain cars and 10 empty automobile carriers on the 102-car train derailed just before 5 p.m. MT on Thursday while the westbound train was travelling at 64 kilometres an hour, said Chris Krepski, a spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), the independent safety investigator.
There were no injuries and no dangerous goods were involved, he said. The cause of the crash and the gradient of the track was not available, he said.
Jeremy Berry, a CP spokesman, said the cause of the derailment is under investigation.
The 220-km stretch of tracks through the Rocky Mountains between Calgary and Field, B.C., is some of the steepest and most treacherous rail in North America.
On Feb. 4, three CP railway workers died when their train ran out of control and crashed down the mountainside. The cause of the tragedy, which killed engineer Andrew Dockrell, conductor Dylan Paradis and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer, is the subject of a TSB investigation. The men had just boarded the train, which the previous crew had stopped in an emergency as it sped beyond their control. The train began moving down the slope and quickly exceeded the speed limit and crashed at a bridge, falling into the Kicking Horse River.
Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, responded to the fatal derailment by ordering railways to apply rail-car hand brakes when trains are halted in an emergency stop. There were no hand brakes set on the Feb. 4 train, and no CP or Transport Canada rules required such measures.
Applying a train’s emergency brakes is a last measure to halt a train speeding out of control. A train that has made an emergency stop must then halt while the air-brake system is recharged. It is not known why the emergency brakes failed, but cold weather, snow and leaky, aged equipment are known to hamper the operation of air brakes. Hand brakes, if set properly, are known to be a safe backstop to air brakes on halted trains.
On Jan. 3, a CP train derailed in the spiral tunnel west of Banff. The TSB is investigating why 15 empty rail cars jumped the tracks.
Additionally, the engineer of a CP train on Monday had to use the emergency brakes to control a train as it descended the steep tracks heading into the town of Field.