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Canadian freight train derails, explodes


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#21 George Harris

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 03:54 PM

It takes quite a lot of change in elevation with a fairly good grade on it to get a train up to 60 mph.  Did not realize that there was that much of either in this area.



#22 NS VIA Fan

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 06:08 PM

It takes quite a lot of change in elevation with a fairly good grade on it to get a train up to 60 mph.  Did not realize that there was that much of either in this area.

Quite mountainous.....the White Mountains of New Hampshire are just across the border. Mt Washington (cog railway fame) is about 80 miles south and the mountains of western Maine are 10 miles east. The MM&A Railway crosses the US border at Boundary Station, just east of Megantic at 1850 feet elevation.

 

Megantic is in a valley at the end of a 10 km, 1% grade from Nantes where the train was initially parked.  


Edited by NS VIA Fan, 09 July 2013 - 06:58 PM.


#23 MrFSS

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 07:37 PM

Some stunning high-res pictures here. Five are now confirmed dead but 40 still missing.........It was a warm evening and the bars would have been packed at 1am when the derailment occurred.  In one of the pictures here (#5) you’ll see what’s left of an outdoor patio and bar.
 
http://www.spiq.ca/v...ntic/index.html
 
This is the former CP line that crosses Maine and was once the route of VIA's Atlantic.


The link doesn't show the pictures. I saw them once, but they seem to be gone, now?

#24 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 10:58 PM

There is some posting on misc.transport.rail.americas Usenet group from someone in Canada, that a series of events each OK in and of itself, led to the train losing its brakes. According to that set of postings here is what happened....

1. The Engineer parked the train, shut down three of the four units, and kept one unit on to supply brake air to keep the train stationary, and went off to a hotel nearby.

2. The engine caught fire.

3. The fire department came to put the fire out and in the process shut off the engine.

4. Unfortunately they neither tried to contact the railroad nor tried to find the Engineer apparently, and left.

5. The residual brake air bled out eventually releasing the brakes which set the train rolling.

6. The rest we have seen pictures of.

Don't know the truth or falsehood of this sequence, but this is what is being stated on the internet. As usual we will know the real story only after Transport Canada finishes its inquiry into the incident.

 

So if Point 4 is reportedly incorrect, then I think the two problems are why the engine caught on fire and why the railroad failed to provide information on fire procedures. It does look like this will fall on the railroad's head.

 

It takes quite a lot of change in elevation with a fairly good grade on it to get a train up to 60 mph.  Did not realize that there was that much of either in this area.

Quite mountainous.....the White Mountains of New Hampshire are just across the border. Mt Washington (cog railway fame) is about 80 miles south and the mountains of western Maine are 10 miles east. The MM&A Railway crosses the US border at Boundary Station, just east of Megantic at 1850 feet elevation.

 

Megantic is in a valley at the end of a 10 km, 1% grade from Nantes where the train was initially parked.  

 

Thanks for the details.


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#25 railiner

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 11:30 PM

Some more info:

 

http://trn.trains.co...derailment.aspx

 

Apparently point 4 above is not entirely correct in my list. The Fire Department did contact the Railroad, and it is their guy who now appears to have been the clueless one. So the railroad would appear to be entirely on the hook by themselves.

I am sure that the lawyers will look to get their hands in the deepest pockets they can, whether fair or not.  This might include the tank car manufacturer's, the locomotive manufacturer's and those of all components within....and let's not forget the other railroads that carried those cars prior....and even the shipper and consignee....you get the idea...


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#26 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 11:36 PM

Newest update on the explosion:

http://www.cnn.com/2...-runaway-train/

 

Could this be sabotage or train vandalism? There's so many possible reasons, and no one really knows the truth right now. I'll be waiting for that investigation report.


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#27 cirdan

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 04:01 AM

Is it actually sufficient to leave an engine running to replenish the brake line?

 

Surely a whole multitude of things could happen. Diesel engines stall sometimes for example. It doesn't require anything as violent as a fire.

 

Wouldnt'it be safer to secure the train with handbrakes and/or blocks?



#28 Aaron

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 05:12 AM

Is it actually sufficient to leave an engine running to replenish the brake line?

 

No. From what knowledgable employees of other railroads are reporting, the standard procedure for securing a train is to set the air brakes, then manually set the handbrakes on a sufficient number of cars given the grade and the load of the train. Once the handbrakes are set, the air brakes are released, and the locomotive is supposed to actually tug on the train to see if it moves. If it doesn't, great. If it does, set the air brakes again, go back to the cars, set more brakes, and repeat. Additionally, if the train is parked on a siding, either derails have to be placed, or a switch needs to be lined up in whatever way would keep it from rolling on to the main line. In this case, the MM&A train was parked on the main, so that part's irrelevant. (Here's a pretty good explanation: http://www.montrealg...1894/story.html)

 

It's still early in the investigation, and I'm really not knowledgable enough to comment with any authority, but I won't let that stop me. The way I see it, the very best case scenario for the railroad is some discovery of some sort of sabotage or criminal activity, like finding that someone deliberately set the original fire on the locomotive. That would at least let their lawyers direct part of the blame toward something else for starting the big chain of events. They'd still get hammered for contributory negligence for everything the engineer did wrong and every policy or training material that pushed the engineer to take shortcuts.

 

Without some sort of smoking gun evidence of third party involvement like that, they're doomed, and I think they know it, and that's why their CEO walks around spouting such dumb comments like pinning everything on the air brakes and then blaming the firefighters for shutting the locomotive down. It's a Hail Mary play to deflect as much attention as possible for as long as possible in the hopes that something else might magically appear that they can pin at least some of the blame on.



#29 cirdan

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 09:00 AM

Do items such as the data recorder and the nose camera continue to work when the engine is shut down?

 

If so, then there might be some indication there of tampering, and/or of professional misconduct by the engineer.



#30 CHamilton

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:06 PM

It is unreal to be in Quebec province today. My train journeys are unaffected, but news of the disaster is everywhere. Today's Montreal Gazette uses most of its front section to describe how the town is coping (not well). There doesn't seem to be much new info on why it happened, but there are diagrams showing what went where.

 

Here's a link to a bunch of their stories: http://www.montrealg...ntic/index.html


Edited by CHamilton, 10 July 2013 - 07:36 PM.

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#31 AlanB

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 07:37 PM

Well as of this evening the engineer is now in police custody and the current reports state that he failed to engage enough hand brakes on the consist. Because of that, after the fire, with the engine shut down now the air slowly bled out and the few handbrakes that were engaged were not enough to keep the train from moving on the grade.

http://worldnews.nbc...suspended?lite=
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#32 Aaron

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 11:42 PM

Well as of this evening the engineer is now in police custody...

 

No, he's not. The statement from the MM&A CEO is that he's "under police control", whatever that means. The article you quoted specifically stated that no arrests have been made. This article makes it clear with additional statements from the CEO that the engineer is not actually in custody. The police are silent on the matter.

 

The phrase "under police control" is probably an intentionally deceptive phrasing on his part. It's just another one of the shifting array of statements designed to confuse and spread blame while Burkhardt and MM&A hope for a miracle.



#33 cirdan

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 03:33 AM

Well as of this evening the engineer is now in police custody...

 

No, he's not. The statement from the MM&A CEO is that he's "under police control", whatever that means. The article you quoted specifically stated that no arrests have been made. This article makes it clear with additional statements from the CEO that the engineer is not actually in custody. The police are silent on the matter.

 

The phrase "under police control" is probably an intentionally deceptive phrasing on his part. It's just another one of the shifting array of statements designed to confuse and spread blame while Burkhardt and MM&A hope for a miracle.

I hope he's being taken proper care of. Being in a situation like his and realizing the damage and deaths he's probably responsible for, there may be an increased danger he may be having suicidal thoughts.



#34 Ryan

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 04:34 AM


Well as of this evening the engineer is now in police custody...

 
No, he's not. The statement from the MM&A CEO is that he's "under police control", whatever that means. The article you quoted specifically stated that no arrests have been made.



It's possible to be in custody without being under arrest.

It's probably protective custody, since it sounds like the folks from that town are righteously pissed.
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#35 CHamilton

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 05:39 AM

Here's a story from yesterday that's quite sympathetic to the engineer. http://www.montrealg...7628/story.html

 

And a story from today that doesn't make MMA's chairman look good.

http://www.montrealg...3326/story.html

 

The regulators are admitting failure, too.

http://www.montrealg...2649/story.html

 

All in all, there's lots of blame to go around, as made clear from the editorial cartoons.

http://www.montrealg...oons/index.html

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Edited by CHamilton, 11 July 2013 - 05:51 AM.

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#36 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 10:54 PM

Well as of this evening the engineer is now in police custody...

 

No, he's not. The statement from the MM&A CEO is that he's "under police control", whatever that means. The article you quoted specifically stated that no arrests have been made. This article makes it clear with additional statements from the CEO that the engineer is not actually in custody. The police are silent on the matter.

 

The phrase "under police control" is probably an intentionally deceptive phrasing on his part. It's just another one of the shifting array of statements designed to confuse and spread blame while Burkhardt and MM&A hope for a miracle.

I hope he's being taken proper care of. Being in a situation like his and realizing the damage and deaths he's probably responsible for, there may be an increased danger he may be having suicidal thoughts.

 

If he commits suicide then that would make the investigation much harder. For the sake of the victims and prevention of another accident like this, he should not kill himself.


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#37 FriskyFL

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 01:18 PM

I'm curious, where are the locomotives? Presumably they either derailed in front of the tank cars, or somehow managed to stay on the rails and rolled to a stop somewhere S of the wreck? I've not seen any pix.

#38 jis

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 01:58 PM

They detached from the cars and went past the town and stopped. They did not derail.

#39 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 10:49 PM

They detached from the cars and went past the town and stopped. They did not derail.

 

That's interesting. I wonder how that happened. I hope this helps the investigators.


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#40 CHamilton

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 09:56 AM

Canada's Transportation Safety Board issues advisories in wake of Quebec derailment

 

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) on Friday announced it issued two "urgent safety advisories" to Transport Canada associated with its ongoing investigation into the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) derailment that occurred July 6 in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.


The first advisory pertains to the securement of equipment and trains left unattended. The TSB investigation determined that the braking force applied to the train that derailed was insufficient to hold it on the 1.2 percent descending slope. Therefore, the TSB has asked Transport Canada to review certain Canadian railroad operating rules and related railway special instructions to ensure that equipment and trains left unattended are properly secured to prevent unintended movements.

The second advisory concerns the securement of trains carrying hazardous materials. Given the importance of safely moving "dangerous goods" and the vulnerability of unattended equipment, the TSB has asked Transport Canada to review all railroad operating procedures to ensure that trains carrying dangerous goods are not left unattended on a main track, according to a press release.


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