Railway accidents up 7% in 2018, but fewer deaths: TSB report

17 main-track derailments and 62 on secondary tracks involving five or fewer cars

A train derailment is shown near Field, B.C., Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the number of railway accidents increased by seven per cent last year including those involving dangerous goods, but there were fewer fatalities.

There were 1,170 accidents, up from 1,091 in 2017 and above the five-year average of 1,035, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday.

READ MORE: Train that derailed and killed three near Field, B.C., ‘just started moving on its own’

Fatalities decreased to 57 from 76 a year earlier, but the number of serious injuries rose to 91 from 65 primarily due to events at crossings.

Accidents involving dangerous goods increased nine per cent to 125 from 115, with six resulting in the release of dangerous materials.

There were 17 main-track derailments and 62 on secondary tracks involving five or fewer cars, up from 10 and 54 respectively in 2017. The increased derailments came amid a 5.6-per-cent increase in gross ton miles traffic.

“All said, we believe that the statistics are encouraging in many important areas, thereby suggesting that the railroads are operating at a high level of safety,” analyst Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets wrote in a research note.

The government report also said the number of aviation accidents decreased 16 per cent to 201 from 240. There was also an eight per cent dip in incidents, but the 860 reported was higher than the 797 five-year average.

The number of fatalities in airplanes, helicopters and ultralight aircraft was stable at 23. There were no deaths involving foreign-registered aircraft.

Marine transportation accidents increased slightly to 283 while total number of incidents were up six per cent to 936.

The Canadian Press

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