News Release Article from  Transportation Safety Board of Canada

TSB Watchlist issue highlighted in December 2014 railway crossing accident in Parent, Quebec

Gatineau, Quebec, 15 February 2016 — In its investigation report (R14Q0047) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that driver misjudgment contributed to the December 2014 crossing collision between a VIA Rail Canada Inc. (VIA) passenger train (VIA 603) and a pick-up truck in Parent, Quebec. One of the truck occupants was fatally injured, two others were seriously injured and another received minor injuries. The vehicle was destroyed in the accident. No one on VIA 603 was injured.

On 05 December 2014, VIA 603 departed Montréal, Quebec, for Senneterre, Quebec, on the Canadian National (CN) St-Maurice Subdivision. The train made a scheduled stop at the Parent Station. Shortly after departing Parent, while approaching the des Sources Street private crossing, the train horn was sounded as required by regulation. The ditch lights on the locomotive were illuminated and the headlights were on bright. The train crew noticed a northbound vehicle that had initially slowed down, but then started to accelerate to enter the crossing. The train crew continued to sound the locomotive horn and started to slow down the train. Unable to stop, the train struck the right side of the vehicle.

The investigation determined that the vehicle did not stop at the stop sign before entering the crossing into the path of the train. The driver and the front passenger believed that there was enough time to cross ahead of the train. The investigation also found that the driver and the front passenger had recently used an illicit substance that had likely affected their perception and contributed to the decision to proceed into the crossing without stopping. The passengers had not been wearing their seatbelts which likely increased the extent of their injuries.

As part of VIA’s follow-up to this accident, a site inspection was conducted which noted that the signs for train crews along the railway right of way were not properly located. CN, the track owner, subsequently moved the signs to their proper location. In July 2015, following a Transport Canada (TC) inspection at the crossing, CN replaced the railway crossing sign, the private crossing sign and the stop sign, placing them on a single post to avoid obstructing the view of other signs.

The TSB has identified Railway crossing safety as a Watchlist issue. As this occurrence shows, the risk of trains and vehicles colliding at crossings remains too high. The Board is calling on TC to develop enhanced standards or guidelines for certain types of crossing signs, and to continue its leadership in assessing crossing safety and funding improvements. A comprehensive solution must also include consultation with provincial authorities and further public driver education on the dangers at railway crossings.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

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