Crews survey the damage at the scene of a coal train derailment where 27 cars came off the track near New Hazelton, spilling some coal into Mission Creek. (Emergency Management B.C. photo)

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

The CN freight train that derailed near New Hazelton — spilling coal into Mission Creek — left the track because of a broken axle.

It has happened before, and it can happen again.

That is according to a Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) report released Thursday.

The TSB report concludes that the routine visual inspection could not have detected the fatigue cracks in the axle the cracked part is concealed by wheel bearing components.

The train received a certified car inspection in Prince George four days before the Jan. 19, 2018 derailment. A pull-by inspection was also performed at the last crew change in Smithers, where it left from the morning of the derailment.

“Without alternate strategies to identify fatigue cracks or to predict the likelihood of fatigue cracks developing, problematic axles might not be removed from service in a timely manner, increasing the risk of broken-axle derailments,” concludes the media release that accompanied the report.

“The Board is unaware of any safety action that has been taken as a result of this occurrence,” reads the only sentence under the heading ‘safety action taken.’

CN released a statement Monday morning after The Interior News asked if the company was planning to do anything about the particular issue with axle inspections:

“CN apologizes for the impact this incident had on the local community.

“We are constantly improving our inspection methods and investing into our network. Since 2014, CN has modified its inspection techniques in its mechanical shops to include additional specialized testing for axles. As part of our 2019 record “$3.9 billion capital investments, CN is deploying specialized inspection portals that detect flaws and defects before they cause an incident using imaging and artificial intelligence.

“Safety is a core value at CN and we learn from every incident. We will take the time to analyze this report in depth and apply any lessons that can be learned.”

The New Hazelton derailment is not unique. The TSB report reads that from 2008-2017, there were 23 derailments on CN and Canadian Pacific Railway tracks caused by a broken axle. Nine of the axles broke like in the New Hazelton incident: near the journal fillet radius, the area between where the wheel and wheel bearing is mounted on the axle.

The TSB report could not pin down the exact cause of the 52nd of 199 cars’ axle fatigue, but did say, “fatigue cracks are known to result from abnormal cyclic loading due to a number of reasons, such as a wheel tread defect, a general out-of-roundness, or uneven loading from railcar truck components.”

The axle was manufactured in 1981 by Valdunes in France, repaired in January 2000, last maintained with the wheels in Prince George in January 2014. The report said with new wheels and roller bearings, axles can remain in service “up to or beyond 40 years…”

There were no injuries caused by the derailment and no dangerous goods were involved.

The three crew members — an engineer, conductor and a third member on a familiarization trip — came to a screeching stop when at about 7:18 a.m. while travelling 29 mph when there was a train-initiated emergency brake application. The crew reported no anomalies before the braking.

The B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy monitored the site clean-up and recovery activities conducted by CN to ensure they met regulatory requirements. About 2,900 tons of thermal coal was dumped, with 2,800 or 97 per cent recovered. A small, unspecified amount of that spilled into Mission Creek.

Along with the 199 cars, 27 of which derailed, there were two locomotives at the head and one mid-train. The 50th to 76th cars derailed.

None of the cars were overloaded. The train weighed 28,069 tons and was 10,785 feet long, according to the TSB report.

editor@interior-news.com

@SmithersNews

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Eastward view of the derailed cars near New Hazelton. (Interior News file photo with TSB annotations)

Diagram of the New Hazelton CN train derailment site (TSB diagram)

Fracture surface (view towards centre of axle). The red arrows identify beach marks, and the blue pointers identify ratchet marks. (TSB photo)

Mating fracture surface from the broken axle at the L1 bearing. View toward centre of axle. (TSB photo)

Fracture surface (view towards end of axle). The red arrows identify beach marks, and the blue pointers identify ratchet marks. (TSB photo)

Mating fracture surface from the broken axle at the L1 bearing. View toward end of axle. (TSB photo)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

VIDEO: Port Clements bumper golf course in full swing

Volunteers, rec staff transformed soccer field into small, social distancing-friendly golf course

Gwaii Trust Society creates ‘Staycation Grant’ for Haida Gwaii residents

Residents may apply for up to $250 to explore adventure opportunities in their own backyard

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Iconic Haida Gwaii species to be included in literary field guide for ‘Cascadia’

Experts, artists working on literary field guide with ‘kinship clusters’ for Pacific Northwest

Kristi Lane Sinclair art doc ‘taking a different stance’ on the Gaag.iid

Toronto-based Haida artist hopes to start editing passion project on the fabled ‘wild man’ next month

UPDATE: Military reservist facing 22 charges after allegedly ramming gates at Rideau Hall

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

a piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016.

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Community infrastructure funding announced for 24 Northern B.C. projects

Recipients include municipalities, First Nations and not-for-profits

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read