Canada CP Rail, managers charged over B.C. mountain train left 'without handbrakes'

07:20  11 january  2017
07:20  11 january  2017 Source:   cbc.ca

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Canadian Pacific Railway is facing allegations it parked a train of 57 loaded rail cars, some carrying dangerous goods, unattended in the dark on a mountain slope above Revelstoke, B . C ., without applying hand brakes — in breach of emergency directives made after the Lac-Mégantic disaster. Transport Canada investigators raided CP 's headquarters in Calgary last month and seized recordings of radio calls between managers , rail traffic controllers and train crews, trying to piece together what occurred on the night of Feb.

CP train parked without hand brakes above B . C . town, warrant alleges. CP train left without handbrakes above Revelstoke, B . C .: warrant. Train 401 was descending CP Rail 's " Mountain subdivision" approaching Revelstoke when the conductor said she was ordered to leave Fortunately, the train remained in place without incident, and was later picked up and moved by CP managers .

Officials in British Columbia have laid a series of charges accusing CP Rail and two senior managers of illegally ordering a freight train crew to park on a mountain slope above the town of Revelstoke without proper hand brakes applied.

The train incident was first revealed by CBC News after Transport Canada investigators conducted a series of raids on CP Rail's Calgary headquarters looking for evidence.

The warrants allege that in February 2015 the crew aboard a freight train of 57 loaded rail cars, some carrying dangerous goods, was ordered to leave their train unattended in the dark on a siding above Revelstoke without applying hand brakes. The warrants allege it was in direct breach of emergency directives made by Canada's transport minister after the Lac-Mégantic disaster.

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Transport Canada is alleging three CP Rail supervisors - not the train crew - are responsible for leaving 57 rail cars parked on a mountain slope without proper handbrakes earlier this year near Revelstoke, B . C ., contrary to a ministerial directive.

CP train left without hand brakes above Revelstoke. Rail companies fight new rules to prevent crew fatigue. CP Rail lashes out at transport minister. But sources said it was " over -length," meaning it was too long to fit entirely on the side track and had several rail cars trailing out on the main track. CP Rail 's Mountain Subdivision through B . C .'s Rogers Pass is one of Canada's steepest, most dangerous railway corridors.

Several weeks ago, officials in B.C. laid charges under the Railway Safety Act against the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, as well as then-superintendent Mark Jackson and Tim McClelland ,a manager based in Calgary involved in sending radio orders the night of the alleged incident.

Eve of a strike at CP Rail

The incident between February 2 and 15 of 2015 occurred as CP was scrambling to park and lock-down its trains in advance of a pending labour stoppage.

The conductor and engineer were running out of time before the end of their shift, according to documents filed in court. 

The crew was directed to leave 57 cars on the main track without hand brakes, the warrant asserts. Sources say it was to allow the crew to move the tankers carrying fuel to a siding to be parked and secured.

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CP Rail is facing allegations it parked a train of 57 loaded rail cars, some carrying dangerous goods, unattended in the dark on a mountain slope above Revelstoke, B . C ., without applying hand brakes — in breach of emergency directives made after the Lac Megantic disaster. Transport Canada investigators raided CP Rail 's headquarters in Calgary last month and seized recordings of radio calls between managers , rail traffic controllers and train crews, trying to piece together what occurred on the night of Feb.

CP train left without hand brakes above Revelstoke, B . C .: warrant. Runaway trains almost triple reported rate, CBC finds. Inspectors believe the company, and a manager , violated the Railway Safety Act and emergency measures issued after the deadly crude oil train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que. "If it is the case that CP Rail did not adhere to our emergency directive, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Raitt told CBC News Network's Power & Politics on Monday.

The conductor and engineer, both relatively junior employees, questioned the order coming from the radio operator, sources say, but they were overruled.

They were "informed that the direction came from Mark Jackson, then employed as superintendent, B.C. Interior Division, Canadian Pacific Railway," states the search warrant.

CBC News has been unable to reach Jackson since the charges were laid, but when contacted more than a year ago at CP's Cranbrook, B.C. office Jackson insisted he'd done nothing that was unsafe.

"I can tell you at the time, based on the info that was provided, it was going to be a safe move. I know myself I've been cleared of any wrongdoing in this," Jackson told CBC News at the time.

In the end, the train parked unattended was safely retrieved and later moved.

Jackson has since been fired by CP Rail and he is now suing the company over his dismissal.

CP has refused to comment on the firing and won't talk about the recent Railway Safety Act charges.

"As this matter is before the courts, we have no comment," Martin Cej, CP  assistant vice-president of public affairs told CBC news in a brief emailed statement.

If convicted, CP Rail could face a fine of up to $1 million.

Jackson and McClelland each face a maximum penalty of fines of $50,000 per count and up to six months in jail.

The accused are all due in court in the town of Revelstoke on February 1, 2017.

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