TSB: Canadian railway accidents increase

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor, Railway Track & Structures; and Engineering Editor, Railway Age
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A TSB investigator at the site of a Huxley, Alberta derailment in October 2017. Photo: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its preliminary transportation occurrence statistics for 2017. Total railway incidents were up, but still in line with five-year averages.

 TSB says it, along with Transport Canada, the transportation industry, as well as many other organizations and researchers, uses these statistics on reportable occurrences in the air, marine, railway and pipeline modes of transportation for the identification and analysis of trends.

TSB notes that in 2017, 1,090 railway accidents were reported to the TSB, a 21% increase over 2016, but close to the five-year average of 1,028. There were 77 rail-related fatalities – 11 more than the previous year, but close to the five-year average of 75. Among these, 53 involved trespassers, compared to 47 in 2016 and to the five-year average of 39.

Among all TSB-reported railway accidents, 115 involved dangerous goods, up from 100 in 2016, but a 9% decrease compared to the five-year average of 127. Five of those accidents in 2017 resulted in a dangerous goods release.

There were 274 railway incidents reported to the TSB in 2017, a 16% decrease from 2016 and a 13% decrease from the five-year average. About half of these (122) were movement exceeds limits of authority incidents – 11 fewer than in 2016, but close to the five-year average of 124.

In early spring, the TSB will release its complete and final statistical reports for 2017, including accident rates and a more thorough analysis of the data.

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