TSB Determines Rail Manufactured in 1953 Factor in 2019 Derailment Near Saskatoon


The Transportation Safety Board has determined that rail that was manufactured in 1953 has identified as a factor in a 2019 derailment near Saskatoon.


On January 22, 2019, a CN freight train was proceeding southward at 31 mph on the Warman Subdivision in Saskatchewan. At 9:23 local time, the train experienced a rough ride as it crossed over the median between divided Highway 11. A minute later, a train-initiated emergency brake application occurred as 29 loaded grain cars and a mid-train locomotive derailed. Some of the derailed grain cars released their loads, and the derailed locomotive caught fire, but was quickly extinguished. No dangerous goods were involved and there were no injuries.


The investigation found that the rail head was missing at a joint between two pieces of rail, leaving a gap in the rail surface.


As the head-end of the train travelled over the gap in the rail, the impact from the wheels further damaged the rail until it failed under the 27th car, resulting in the derailment. No cracks had been detected when the track was inspected ultrasonically less than a month earlier, suggesting that the crack had progressed from a non-detectable state to rail failure within weeks.

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