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Diminished effectiveness of locomotive horn contributed to 2013 grade crossing fatality, Canada's TSB determines

(Source: Transportation Safety Board of Canada press release, August 12, 2014)

VANCOUVER, B.C. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada today released its investigation report (R13E0015) into the January 2013 collision between a Canadian National (CN) freight train and a road grader at a level crossing near Paynton, Saskatchewan. The driver of the road grader was killed in the accident. The locomotive and 16 tank cars carrying dangerous goods derailed. Approximately 106 000 litres of crude oil was released from 4 cars.

On 24 January 2013, at 8:56 a.m. Central Standard Time, an eastbound CN freight train struck a stationary road grader at a public grade crossing. As the train approached the crossing, the engine bell was activated and the engine horn was sounded several times. Unable to stop in time, the train collided with the road grader.

The TSB investigation found that the road grader driver's attention was likely focused on resetting the blades for snow clearing in the vicinity of the crossing, and did not detect the approaching train from the west. The investigation also determined that the placement and orientation of the horn on the locomotive, coupled with the sound levels within the cab of the road grader, resulted in the driver of the road grader having less than 2 seconds of audible warning.

On 21 November 2013, the TSB issued a Rail Safety Advisory (RSA 14/13) related to the reduced effectiveness of the locomotive horn when the locomotive is operated with the long hood leading (i.e., reverse orientation). In reply, Transport Canada (TC) has asked the Transportation Development Centre to undertake a research project pertaining to the audibility of locomotive horns. The aim of this research project is to analyze the locomotive horn's effectiveness under conditions similar to those of the accident.

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.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

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