News release

Associated links (R18D0069)

Inadequate securement of cargo on a rail car led to July 2018 derailment near Saint-Polycarpe, Quebec

Dorval, Quebec, 9 December 2019  — In its investigation report (R18D0069) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that cargo that had been inadequately secured fell from an A-frame flat car leading to the derailment of a Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) train near Saint-Polycarpe, Quebec. There were no injuries and no dangerous goods were released.

On 16 July 2018, at about 1845 local time, a CP freight train experienced a train-initiated emergency brake application at Mile 36.6 on the south track of CP’s Winchester Subdivision. A subsequent inspection determined that 22 cars had derailed.

The investigation found that the derailment occurred when the leading end of a boxcar struck a 21-foot section of stock rail that had fallen from the end of the preceding A-frame flat car. The stock rail had been loaded in Winnipeg with unbundled crossties on the deck of the flat car and secured using two loops of steel banding routed through anchor rings. This securement technique did not provide sufficient lateral restraint. The load of crossties, with the heavier stock rail on top, gradually shifted laterally under normal train operation and eventually fell over, allowing the 2 loops of steel banding to come loose. One of the loops broke and the stock rail fell from the car, leading to the derailment. If written procedures for the safe loading and securement of rail cars are not developed and implemented, cargo may not be properly loaded and/or secured, increasing the risk of material falling off a rail car during train operations.

The investigation also determined that the top load securement on the flat car had not been inspected to Railway Association of Canada standards before the car was released for shipment to its destination. If railway personnel tasked with verifying top loading securement are not formally trained to assess top loading, cargo that is not appropriately secured may not be identified, increasing the risk of unsecured materials falling off a car.

The investigation further identified deficiencies in CP’s site access control for this occurrence. After the initial response and site assessment, members of the public were able to access the site without supervision, training, or personal protective equipment. Reliably securing an exclusion zone for the duration of an occurrence helps ensure the safety of the public and the environment, particularly when dangerous goods are involved.

Following the occurrence, the TSB issued a Rail Safety Advisory to Transport Canada (TC) regarding CP’s open top loading practices. TC responded that it had followed up with CP and that the railway had adequately addressed the issue. For its part, CP issued a written procedure on loading and inspection of A-frame flat cars and trained its employees on this new procedure.

See the TSB investigation page for more information.


The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail 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
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca

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