Three rail workers have been killed after a Canadian Pacific (CP) train hauling grain hoppers cars derailed near the Alberta/British Columbia (BC) border.
CP confirmed that the westbound train jumped the rails between the Upper and Lower Spiral tunnels, just east of Field in BC, at 1am local time on Monday morning (4 February), derailing up to 60 grain cars.
After derailing, it is understood that the train fell about 60m off a bridge, with the locomotive ending up in the Kicking Horse River.
“It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of three CP family members early this morning” said Keith Creel, CP president and CEO.
“As a result of the derailment, which occurred at approximately 1am mountain time, we lost three professional railroaders. The three-person crew included conductor Dylan Paradis, engineer Andrew Dockrell and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer.”
With the incident now under investigation by the Transportation Safety Board, CP declined to speculate on the cause at this time. “We owe it to those involved to get it right,” said Creel.
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) said this was a runaway train. It pointed out that eight railway workers have now died in Canada since November 2017, and investigations into these incidents are still ongoing.
“Today, our focus is on this accident as well as the victims’ friends and families,” said Lyndon Isaack, president of the TCRC. “But moving forward, the government and the rail industry will have to recognise that something is wrong and change is needed. Eight workplace fatalities in a little over a year is not something that should be expected or accepted.”
Creel commented: “In the hours ahead, we remain focused on employee safety and the safety of our first responders, in addition to working closely with the families of the deceased and all our employees. This is a tragedy that will have a long-lasting impact on our family of railroaders.”
The BC Environment Ministry said that it is monitoring the situation and there was no information yet about whether contaminates had entered the river water, but is confirmed that the train was not carrying any hazardous cargo.
“We are working closely with Parks Canada and other agencies to ensure the environment is not negatively impacted,” said Creel. “The recovery will be complex and challenging, given the remote location and extreme weather, but with collaboration and communication, we will get there.
“To all those who have offered their thoughts and prayers, thank you. As we work to safely recover from this tragedy, we do so with our fallen colleagues in mind. Our entire railroad family mourns this tragic loss.”