Archive for March, 2011

Was deadly bullet train speeding?

March 23, 2011

by Jack Locke

New documents released by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, following a Lockeblog access to information request, suggest the VIA Rail train that killed three Montreal-area boys on Oct. 31, 2010 may have been speeding.

Aerial photo shows railway area west of Turcot Tunnel where 3 boys were killed.

The fast moving train that killed Dylan Ford, Mitchell Bracken-Guenet, and Ricardo Conesa was about to enter a 35 mph zone when it struck the teens. Yet, the brakes on the train were not applied until after the three were struck.

Various accounts describe the train travelling at between 63 and 70 mph. An initial Transport Saftey Board(TSB) account lists the train travelling at 70 mph at mileage point 4.7 of Canadian National Railway’s track. CN is the owner of the track used by VIA.

A VIA Rail accident report suggests the train was travelling at “approximately” 63 mph at mileage 4.5 when the young men were hit at 3 AM the morning of Oct. 31.

However, a CN incident document describes the location as point 3.97. This raises uncertainty as to the precise location of the mishap.

CN’s operating rules say the speed limit for the involved train is 65 mph for a section of track from milepost 4.0 to 7.5. The speed limit for the train from milepost 4.0 to 3.6 is 35 mph. Therefore, if the train was travelling at 70 mph, it would have been exceeding the speed limit by 5 mph. If the accident occurred at point 3.97, the train would have been moving at nearly twice the speed limit.

As the train was either travelling in, or approaching, the slower section of track, normally the train’s air brakes should have been engaged, but had not been.

VIA Rail has admitted that the emergency brakes were not applied until after the youngsters were struck, and that the locomotive engineers did not see the three boys walking on the tracks.

As the aerial photo shows, the area where the boys were struck is bordered by highways that have overhead street lamps. Also, the train has a main headlight that is supposed to illuminate 800 feet ahead of the train. VIA says that only secondary ditch lights were in operation.

A question that must be raised in the Turcot Train Tragedy is: Why had VIA Rail train 668 not reduced its speed from approximately 70 mph as it approached a 35 mph zone?

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Strahl retires, documents upcoming

March 13, 2011

by Jack Locke

Canada’s Minister of Transport Chuck Strahl has announced his retirement.
I wish you well, Chuck.
Also, I await documents from one of his agencies, the Transportation Safety Board–related to the Turcot Train Tragedy.
I am hoping for a Tsunami of documents.