A CP Rail manager has been found guilty of contravening Transportation Canada’s Emergency Directive when directing staff to leave a train containing explosive materials on a mountain slope without hand brakes in Feb. 2015. (Black Press File photo)

CP Rail manager guilty after train carrying dangerous goods left unattended

The train was left without hand brakes east of Revelstoke in February 2015

A CP Rail manager, who directed staff to leave a train parked east of Revelstoke without hand brakes in Feb. 2015, has been found guilty under the Railway Safety Act.

Tim McClelland was found guilty on two counts while CP Rail, which was also charged, was found not guilty.

“I am satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the Canadian Pacific Railway Company exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offences,” said Judge Richard Hewson in his decision document.

Mark Jackson, superintendent of the mountain subdivision of CP Rail at the time, was also found not guilty.

Hewson said that though Jackson made a mistake, it was reasonable given the information Jackson was provided by McClelland on the day of the incident.

On Feb. 15, 2015, the crew of CPR Train 401 left 58 rail cars, 19 with oil and two with ammonium nitrate, unattended on the main track at the Greerly staging point, east of Revelstoke. Only emergency brakes were applied.

READ MORE: CP Rail investigated for parking train without hand brakes near Revelstoke

“The crew left the cars in that condition because they acted on their understanding of direction relayed to them by the Rail Traffic controller, who had received those directions from two members of the railway’s management,” the judge said.

Under the Transportation Ministry’s Emergency Directive, key trains–trains with more than 20 cars with dangerous goods–cannot be left unattended on the main track. The directive also specifies the number of hand brakes required to be applied to unattended railway equipment, based on the grade of the rail line and the weight of the train.

The two crew members were called out at 5:35 p.m. and directed to re-crew Train 401 and return it to Revelstoke. The Teamsters Union had called a strike that day, to begin at 10 p.m., but crews are required to finish a trip before striking.

However, the Revelstoke rail yard was full and an alternate plan was communicated on where the team was to tie down Train 401.

The plan could be accomplished in five distinct movements, which Hewson described in his judgment.

  1. The Westbound train is stopped on the south main track at the Greely staging point sign and the train is cut just behind car 94, the last of the cars containing fuel oil.
  2. The head end of the train is moved forward about three miles through the Greely crossover, until it is completely west of the Greely crossover and on the north main track.
  3. The head end of the train is then reversed into the Greely backtrack and the 19 cars containing fuel oil are separated and tied down.
  4. The head end of the train is then pulled forward, leaving the 19 cars containing fuel oil in the backtrack. It pulls forward until it is entirely west of the Greely crossover again.
  5. Finally, the head end of the train is pushed back east, through the Greely crossover back on the south main track, until it reaches the point at which the tail end was left in the first movement. The head end and the tail end are re-coupled. The train, now containing only two dangerous goods cars and no longer a key train, can be tied down on the main track.

Both of the crew members testified at the trial that the switching movement was unusual and complicated, however the greatest complication was adhering to Transportation Canada’s Emergency Directive and apply handbrakes to the equipment that was left unattended.

“As Train 401 moved west toward Revelstoke…the crew made several radio calls to the rail traffic controller with questions and concerns about the movement as they understood it,” Hewson said.

The traffic controller referred to McClelland for clarification, who asked Jackson for advice. The court saw recordings and transcriptions of those communications as exhibits in the trial, which took place May 7-10, 14 and 15 in Revelstoke.

In one recording, which was quoted by the judge in his decision, McClelland asked whether or not the crew needed to apply the 40 handbrakes before pushing the cars in and then knock them off and then tie on another 40 when they come into Revelstoke.

Jackson said “No, no, no” and agreed with McClelland that the crew could leave the train in emergency.

The crew, confused by these directions, repeated them to the traffic controllers in order to ensure they fully understood what they were being asked to do.

In the end, the crew reluctantly followed the directions given to them, leaving the tail end of the train standing on the south main track, east of the Greely staging point sign, unattended and without hand brakes, which contravenes the Emergency Directive.

The train was later moved without incident.

Transportation Canada opened an investigation into the incident, which included a team sent to Revelstoke as well as a raid of CP Rail’s headquarters in Calgary.

READ MORE: Transport Canada continues to investigate CP Rail Greely incident

They charged CP Rail, McClelland and Jackson in January 2017 and the first court appearance was Feb. 1, 2017. McClelland will appear in court again on July 25 to fix a sentencing date.

READ MORE: CP Rail charged after train allegedly ordered parked without brakes near Revelstoke

READ MORE: Not guilty please entered in connection with Greely incident near Revelstoke


 

@JDoll_Revy
jocelyn.doll@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Chemainus family pledges $50,000 to Chemainus Theatre Crisis Relief Fund

The Hilton family pledged $50,000 toward a matched fund. If fully matched, it will raise $100,000

Local woman makes face masks to raise funds for LRCA Food Bank

Cheryl Lowrence made 30 face masks and raised $326.25 for the food bank

Ladysmith family creates music video to show appreciation for community in the face of COVID-19

Sheila Richards, 77 is the star of new music video celebrating community kindness in Ladysmith

Burning complaints prompt regulation reminder from North Oyster Volunteer Fire Department

NOVFD has responded to at least 10 burning complaints in since April 1

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Patient airlifted after crash in Nanaimo’s East Wellington area

Woman sustains serious injuries, requires extrication from vehicle

Most Read