CALGARY — In response to the tragic train accident that has claimed the lives of three employees of the Canadian Pacific railway, the federal minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, issued a decree on Friday, “the obligation to put the hand brakes when a train came to rest in mountainous terrain”.
A decision which is effective immediately, and until further order, to all railway companies.
While stressing that his thoughts are accompanying relatives of the victims of the derailment near Field, in British Columbia, the minister announces that he has appointed an observer in the Office of the transportation safety board of Canada responsible to keep it informed of the ongoing investigation into the causes of the accident.
A convoy to Vancouver with 112 loaded cars of grain was stopped with its brake, compressed air actuated, on a slope east of Field, British Columbia, when he started riding alone at about 1 am in the morning, Monday.
The convoy was then significantly exceeded the speed limit set in the sector, prior to 99 cars and two locomotives will derail. It was around -20 degrees at this time in the Rocky mountains.
The mechanic Andrew Dockrell, the conductor Dylan Paradise and the intern Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer have all lost life in the accident.
The cold in the case
In a recent document of the railway company involved in the derailment murderer this week in the Rocky mountains was a reminder of how difficult it is to operate trains in very cold weather.
“The harsh winter conditions are a reality of life in the northern climate canada, is reminiscent of the document (in English) on the website of the Canadian Pacific. The winter has a profound impact on the business of a railway company and on its ability to maintain service to its customers.”
According to the “white book” of the Canadian Pacific, the cold increases the air leakage in the air brake, which results in a variation of the pressure in the brake between the head and the tail of the train. The convoys are also shortcuts when the temperature drops below -25, in order to ensure a constant pressure along the entire length of the train, indicates the document.
A union representative pointed out that the convoy that derailed on Monday, with its 112 cars, was shorter than the convoys of the usual CP, which include 135 cars for a few years. But a veteran locomotive engineer of train Boston believes that to a convoy of grain, 112 cars, it is a “big convoy”.
“Our forefathers in the railway would never have assembled a convoy that big in these climatic conditions, and hoped then that there are no problems,” said Joe Mulligan, of the agency “Railroad Workers United”, a group of inter-union volunteer railroaders in North America.
The Office of the transportation safety board of Canada (TSB) has already determined that the train had been parked for two hours before moving all alone. The hand brakes had not been tightened, has also entered into the TSB. But for Mr. Mulligan, “it would have been a lot of hand brakes to hold a train is too big”; he believed that there was nothing more to do once the party train to the drift.
The railway company Calgary also indicates in its “white paper” that in the winter, place the locomotives at various locations in a convoy. This distribution of power the train accelerates then the pressure of the air brakes. The convoy that derailed on Monday, there were actually a locomotive in head, middle and tail.
In extremely cold conditions, “dryers” are also used to prevent the moisture seeping into the brake, which means that it takes more time to pressurize and make the necessary security checks, is shown in the “white paper” from the CP. “This inevitably increases the time spent by the train at the terminus.”
The “white paper” also states that in very cold weather, the speed of the train should be reduced – at least 16 km/h below -25 degrees, and at least 32 km/h -35.
Will Young, locomotive engineer Kansas City and a member of the “Railroad Workers United”, has argued that the cold weather threat several components of a train that don’t break more often not. “Steel becomes brittle, rubber seals harden and do not work anymore”, he says.