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Backgrounder - Wabamun Derailment (R05E0059) - Recommendations

Backgrounder - Wabamun Derailment (R05E0059) - Recommendations

On August 3, 2005, at about 5 o'clock mountain daylight time, a Canadian National freight train, proceeding westward from Edmonton, Alberta, to Vancouver, British Columbia, derailed 43 cars near Wabamun, Alberta. Included were one loaded car of pole treating oil, one car of toluene (UN 1294), and 25 loaded cars of Bunker C (heavy fuel oil). Approximately 700 000 litres of Bunker C and 88 000 litres of pole treating oil were spilled, causing extensive property, environmental, and biological damage. About 20 people were evacuated from the immediate area. There were no injuries.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigation found that the train derailed when the rail beneath it broke due to defects. In its report, the Board makes two recommendations with respect to testing and replacing worn rail. The Board also focuses attention on an existing recommendation from 1993 and renews its call for a reassessment of the adequacy of current equipment and procedures for main-track rail testing.

Existing Board Recommendation
The Department of Transport reassess the adequacy of current Canadian railway procedures and equipment for main track rail testing for:
a) identifying rail defects on curved track; and
b) identifying vertical split head defects.

(R93-01, issued April 1993)

Latest Board Recommendations
The Department of Transport establish minimum standards for the quality and strength of maintenance rails.


The Department of Transport establish standards requiring that rails approaching their fatigue limit be replaced.


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The public report R05E0059 and the communiqué are also available on this site.