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Boulders blocking the track and limited visual cues led to November 2014 derailment near Tellier, Quebec
Dorval, Quebec, 30 March 2016 – In its investigation report (R14Q0045) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that the derailment of the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway (QNS&L) ore train near Tellier, Quebec, in November 2014, occurred when the train collided with fallen boulders that were blocking the track.
On 6 November 2014, at approximately 0540, Eastern Standard Time, the QNS&L train, which consisted of three locomotives and 240 empty ore cars, was proceeding northward when it struck a rock slide. The collision caused the two lead locomotives and the first nine cars to derail. The lead locomotive rolled down the slope and came to a stop at the bottom of the Moisie River, completely submerged. The locomotive engineer was fatally injured. About 1000 litres of diesel fuel spilled from the locomotive. About 100 feet of railway track was destroyed.
The investigation determined that the derailment could not have been prevented because the locomotive engineer received no alarm or prior indication that an obstacle was blocking the track. In addition, because it was still very dark and the train was coming out of a curve, the distance of visual perception provided by the locomotive headlights did not allow the locomotive engineer to apply the emergency brakes in time to avoid the collision.
Following the accident, QNS&L implemented several measures aimed specifically at managing ground hazards and improving railway safety. These included having a geotechnical specialist conduct a rock face inspection; setting up a database for compiling information on ground hazards and employee observations; drafting directives for speed reductions during periods of freezing or thawing; and having an independent consultant conduct audits of its programs.
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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