TSB Issues Preliminary 2023 Transportation Occurrence Stats

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
(Courtesy of TSB)

(Courtesy of TSB)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has published its summary of preliminary transportation occurrence statistics from 2023, showing accidents are below the five-year average for the four sectors. Incidents are down in 2023 for rail and marine, flat for pipeline, and up for air transportation.

A total of 1,234 rail occurrences (accidents and incidents) were reported in 2023 to the TSB, an independent investigation agency whose aim is the advancement of transportation safety, not to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability. This is down 11% from 1,382 in 2022. Of these occurrences, 913 were rail accidents, a 9.4% decrease from the prior year, and 13% below the five-year average (1,045). Among the accidents, 87 involved dangerous goods, down 20% from the 2022 total of 110 and 24% below the five-year average of 115. According to TSB, six accidents resulted in a dangerous goods release.

In 2023, there were 67 rail-related fatalities reported, up 3% over 2022 (65 fatalities) and up 6% from the five-year average of 63. Of these fatalities, 53 stemmed from trespassing accidents, up 4% from the 51 reported in 2022. According to TSB, trespassing accidents remain the primary cause of fatalities, accounting for 79% of all rail fatalities, followed by crossing accidents, which decreased slightly to 13 fatalities in 2023 from 14 in the prior year.

There were 24 accidents involving an uncontrolled movement of rolling stock in 2023, down 11% from the 27 reported in 2022, and down 41% from the five-year average of 41. There were nine incidents of uncontrolled movement in 2023, the same number reported last year; this was down 36% from the five-year average of 14. The unplanned/uncontrolled movement of rail equipment was added to the TSB Watchlist in 2020.

Additionally, 321 railway incidents were reported in 2023, representing a 14% decrease from 2022 (374) but a 3% increase from the five-year average (312). A total of 161 of the 321 (50%) railway incidents in 2023 were categorized as “movement exceeds limits of authority” incidents, 27 more than in 2022 and 28 more than the five-year average of 133.

See the data on rail transportation occurrences in December 2023.

According to the TSB, the statistics presented above reflect the information contained in the agency’s modal occurrence databases on Jan. 15, 2024. “Since the occurrence data are constantly being updated in the live database, the statistics may change slightly over time,” reported TSB, which noted that it will release a complete and final statistical reports for 2023 in late spring; these will include accident rates and a “more thorough analysis” of the updated data, “which may vary slightly from this preliminary data.”

Among the 2023 statistics for the other transportation modes:

  • Marine Transportation: A total of 1,031 marine transportation occurrences (accidents and incidents) were reported to the TSB in 2023, a decrease of 15% from the previous year (1212). Of these occurrences, a total of 237 were marine accidents (199 shipping accidents and 38 accidents aboard ship), a 3% decrease from 2022 (244), and 8% below the five-year average of 258. According to TSB, 66 of these accidents involved commercial fishing vessels, an 11% decrease from the previous year’s 74 and 20% below the five-year average of 82. Nine of the 237 accidents were fatal, resulting in 18 fatalities. Ten of these fatalities were from five accidents within the Canadian commercial fishing industry, which TSB said is one of the most hazardous occupations in the country. Additionally, 794 marine incidents were reported, which is a 18% decrease from 2022 (968), and 14% below the five-year average (925). Most reportable incidents (80%) were categorized as “total failure of machinery or technical system,” according to TSB. See the data on marine transportation occurrences in December 2023.
  • Pipeline Transportation: In 2023, a total of 68 pipeline occurrences were reported to the TSB, unchanged from the previous year. No pipeline accidents were reported in 2023, compared with one in 2022 and an average of 0.8 per year from 2018 to 2022. The 68 pipeline incidents in 2023 represent an increase of one from the 67 incidents in 2022, but a 20% decrease from the five-year average of 85. Seventeen of these incidents involved a release of product, below the number in 2022 (25) and the five-year average (26), according to TSB, which reported that 15 of the 17 incidents involved a release of hydrocarbon gas and two involved a release of low vapor pressure hydrocarbons. In 2023, “Pipeline contacted by object” was the category with the most reported incidents (17), above the 2022 total of 13 incidents and the five-year average of 12 incidents, TSB said. Geotechnical/hydrotechnical/environmental activity, which had been the most prevalent incident category, was second in 2023 with 15 incidents, up one from 2022 but below the five-year average of 31 incidents, according to the agency. See the data on pipeline transportation occurrences in December 2023.
  • Air Transportation: A total of 1,014 air transportation occurrences (accidents and incidents) were reported to the TSB in 2023, an increase of 14% over the previous year’s 893. Of these occurrences, a total of 181 were aviation accidents, a 9% increase from the 166 accidents reported in 2022, but 5% lower than the five-year average of 191. Nineteen of these were fatal, TSB said, resulting in 33 fatalities compared with 24 fatal accidents and 34 fatalities in 2022. Accidents involving commercial operators increased from 56 in 2022 to 78 in 2023, while those involving private operations (by recreational operators, holders of a private operator registration document, or others) decreased from 108 to 100. Of the total occurrences, 833 were aviation incidents, which is an increase from the previous year’s 727 and above the five-year average’s 685. See the data on air transportation occurrences in December 2023.

The TSB on June 21, 2023 released its final annual statistical summaries from 2022 on transportation occurrences in the rail, air, marine and pipeline sectors.

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