Excessive speed caused Canada train derailment

AP News
Posted: Mar 01, 2012 11:27 AM
Excessive speed caused Canada train derailment

A Canadian Via Rail passenger train was going four times the normal speed when it derailed this week, killing three railroad employees and injuring 45 passengers, investigators said Thursday.

The Transportation Safety Board said the train was traveling at 67 mph (107 kph) when it derailed while switching tracks on Sunday west of Toronto. The speed limit while changing tracks is 15 mph (24 kph).

Lead investigator Tom Griffith said the train's black box shows the brakes were not applied before the crash.

The locomotive traveling from Niagara Falls to Toronto crashed on its side into a small trackside building. A Via official said all six cars derailed.

Emergency crews scrambled to pull the 75 passengers to safety.

Via Rail spokeswoman Michelle Lamarche said the three people killed were all engineers riding at the front of the train.

The investigation is challenging because of the lack of an onboard voice recording device. Canadian trains are not equipped with black box voice recorders. The black box on the Via train only recorded the train's speed, brake pressure, when the brakes were applied and whether the whistle was blowing.

This means that officials do not yet know which employee was operating the train at the time of the crash.

"Once again we are urging Transport Canada and the railway industry to make sure that voice recorders are installed on all Canadian trains," said Griffith during a press conference.

Canadian National Railway, which owns the tracks and leases them to Via, has said it investigated the tracks before the crash and found no signs of deterioration or wear. Police have ruled out any criminal wrongdoing.