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Train-truck collision prompts Via Rail to revise safety procedures for employees

By COS Staff

A Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigation report into a collision between a Via train and a truck has prompted Via Rail to revise its safety procedures.

The May 2013 collision occurred when the train — having just disembarked passengers and refuelled — was travelling in reverse between Gare du Palais and the Limoilou Yard in Quebec.

Via Rail has amended its procedures in an effort to avoid future incidents. Locomotive engineers are no longer to stop the trains upon exiting Gare du Palais. The trains’ refuelling point will be moved away from the level crossing.

Two crew members were involved — the operating locomotive engineer driving the train, and the in-charge locomotive engineer on the ground supervising the reverse movement. The two were communicating by radio.

The investigation found when the tractor-trailer turned to enter the Papiers White Birch paper mill, the manual gates at the crossing were up, and the traffic light controlling access to the plant was indicating traffic could proceed.

Noting another truck had stopped on the paper mill side, the in-charge locomotive engineer concluded the manual gate was down, and informed the operating locomotive engineer the crossing was protected.

The guard operating the crossing gates did not immediately recognize the need to lower the gates to protect the crossing, as the view of the train was partially obstructed and the refuelling operation had taken less time than usual.

The last passenger car was damaged and the tractor-trailer was destroyed. About 300 litres of diesel fuel from the tractor-trailer's fuel tank spilled on the ground.

The collision resulted in no injuries.

Transport Canada has entered into discussions with the City of Quebec, the Papiers White Birch paper mill and Canadian National to improve the traffic light and crossing protection systems at this location.

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