News release

Update on investigation into OC Transpo - VIA Rail collision in Ottawa

Gatineau, Quebec, 20 September 2013 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) continues its investigation into the 18 September OC Transpo collision with VIA Rail passenger train 51 and today has released factual information to date.

What we know

Sequence of events on Wednesday, 18 September, 2013

  • 8:32 a.m.: Via Rail passenger train no 51 departed Ottawa station on time
  • Approximately 8:45 a.m.: OC Transpo Bus 8017 (route 76) departed Fallowfield station
  • 8:48 a.m: OC Transpo bus collided with the VIA Rail locomotive and the train derailed

Crossing

  • This crossing has the highest level of protection and automated warning devices available for level crossings at grade presently used in Canada.
  • The crossing lights, bells and gates were activated 47 seconds prior to impact.
  • The gates were fully horizontal 25 seconds prior to impact.
  • The automated crossing protection functioned as designed and in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Train and train tracks

  • The TSB has obtained the Locomotive Event Recorder and has downloaded key information.
  • There was no whistle sounded due to a municipal whistle ban (the ban is from 8 p.m. to noon); however the train bell had been activated.
  • The train crew applied the emergency brakes 2 seconds prior to impact.
  • The train was travelling at 47 mph at point of impact, well below the allowable speed of 100 mph.
  • The TSB investigation team has not identified any issues with the operation of the train or the condition of the track.

OC Transpo Bus

  • The TSB has obtained one download from the bus and is evaluating the data.
  • Tires on the bus were documented in place then transported to lab for further examination.

Next steps

The TSB team is in the field phase of this investigation. We’ve completed our documentation and data collection at the site, but much work needs to be done. Going forward we will focus our efforts on:

Crossing design and associated risk

  • Review alignment of crossing;
  • Review of roadway alignment;
  • Evaluation of visibility of the crossing protection from roadway and potential obstructions;
  • Assessment of regulatory requirements for automated crossing protection.

OC Transpo Bus

  • Detailed mechanical examination of the bus;
  • Analysis of all available recorded memory from modules within the bus.

Human Factors

  • Factors that may have affected driver performance;
  • Bus operations and driver training;
  • Ergonomic assessment of the driver station.

Interviews

  • TSB specialists have spoken to the next of kin of the victims;
  • Interviews are ongoing with survivors and witnesses, OC Transpo personnel and first responders.

This investigation will require considerable time and effort. The TSB is committed to conducting a comprehensive and thorough investigation. Our efforts will be aimed at explaining what happened and why, in the hopes that what we learn will help prevent accidents like this. If at any time during the investigation a safety deficiency is identified which requires immediate attention, we will notify the appropriate authorities and inform the public.


The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
819-994-8053