Friday, March 02, 2012

Speed a factor in VIA Rail accident

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The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is continuing its investigation of the VIA Rail accident in Burlington, Ontario Feb. 26 that killed three crewmembers and injured at least 35 passengers. But TSB said it already has determined that excessive speed on a crossover was a contributing factor to the incident.

"It can now be confirmed that the train entered the crossover from track 2 to track 3 at approximately 67 mph," TSB said in a statement Thursday. "The maximum authorized speed at that crossover is 15 mph."

TSB still must examine data from the locomotive event recorder, or "black box," but other potential information sources, such as voice or video recordings, are not mandated on Canadian passenger trains.

"In Canada, we have voice recorders aboard aircraft and ships, but not yet on trains," said TSB Chairwoman Wendy Tadros. "As early as 2003, the Board made a recommendation calling for voice recorders on locomotives. In light of this latest accident, I urge Transport Canada and the railway industry to take immediate action on this important safety issue."

VIA Rail passenger train 92, en route from Niagara Falls, Ontario, to Toronto, proceeding eastward on CN's Oakville Subdivision, entered the crossover in Burlington and derailed the locomotive and five coaches; the locomotive struck a building after it derailed and was totally destroyed.

Canadian news media outlets covering the incident and report were speculating over the value of Positive Train Control (PTC) for Canadian rail operations, which unlike the U.S. is not mandated.