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.’

tweet

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…”

A request has been made with CN for comment on the report and whether the company has plans to address the axle inspection situation.

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

TSB map

Eastward view of the derailed cars near New Hazelton. (Interior News file photo with TSB annotations)

Mating fracture surface from the broken axle at the L1 bearing. View toward centre of axle. (TSB photo)

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)

Fracture surface (view towards end of axle). The red arrows identify beach marks, and the blue pointers identify ratchet marks. (TSB photo)

Just Posted

Kelowna man’s child porn collection ‘traversed the spectrum of depravity,’ court hears

Terry Krock was caught in possession of between 7,000 and 12,000 child porn files

City of Kelowna moving temporary shelter off Recreation Avenue

Sheltering space moving to 890 Baillie Avenue, expected to be completed this week

BC Green Party looking for Central Okanagan candidates

The party only has two confirmed candidates: Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen

Evil Dead: The Musical to perform at Kelowna Actors Studio

The performance is a comedic, live stage show, of the cult classic film trilogy

Professional basketball league eyes Kelowna for possible expansion

The CEBL was the first Canadian professional sports league to successfully complete its 2020 season in a bubble format

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

COVID-19 exposure at Merritt pub

The exposure happened on Sept. 19 at the pub of the Coldwater Hotel

UPDATE: Person safely pulled from Vernon creek culvert

First responders from multiple agencies assist in getting individual out of the creek

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police watchdog investigating after man injured in Penticton RCMP cells

Man suffers serious injuries after being lodged into cells at the detachment

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Most Read