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

 

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)

Just Posted

Rock Stock 2019: “It’s going to be better than last year”

For some young musicians this will be their eighth year performing at Rock Stock in Prince Rupert

First ever Indigenous Symposium educates teachers in Prince Rupert

Cedar weaving, drumming for reconciliation and basic Sm’algyax lessons were offered to educators

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

Playing with the big boys: CHSS’ junior rugby team too good for their league

Coach says this is one of the best high school rugby teams he has seen in Prince Rupert

Red cedars dying in Prince Rupert from drought

There was a 75 per cent decline in precipitation for the months of February and April

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Update: Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

ICBC urging drivers to slow down this May long weekend

Speed is number one cause of car crash fatalities: ICBC

Bucks hammer Raptors 125-103 to take 2-0 playoff series lead

Toronto heads home in a hole after second loss to Milwaukee

Most Read