Transport Canada conducts second search of CP Rail HQ for Greeley incident documents

Transport Canada investigating into train parked above Revelstoke without handbrakes

Transport Canada inspectors examine the track at Greeley in September.

Transport Canada conducted a second search of CP Rail’s Calgary headquarters in connection with a February incident in which a train was parked without brakes east of Revelstoke.

The CBC broke the story Tuesday morning.

Transport Canada is investigating CP Rail for allegedly ordering that a train be left on the tracks without the brakes in place on February 15, the night running trades workers went on strike.

A search warrant obtained by the CBC in June alleged that Mark Jackson, the former superintendent of the Revelstoke division, ordered the Train 401 be left parked at Greeley, about 10 kilometres east of Revelstoke, without the brakes applied.

The incident happened as CP Rail engineers and conductors were about to go on strike. According to the warrant, Train 401 was on its way west to Revelstoke when the crew were told to stop at Greeley, 10 kilometres east, and uphill, of town. Because of the impending strike, the crew radioed in to say there wasn’t enough time to apply the handbrakes as required.

The call then came back to not apply the handbrakes. According to the warrant, the order came from Jackson himself. The conductor, who was interviewed by Transport Canada inspectors in April, complied with the order. She notified her union representative, who forwarded her e-mail to Transport Canada.

The train was later moved without incident.

CP Rail headquarters were searched for the first time in May. During that search they sought out recordings of rail traffic activity from the night in question.

After listening to those recordings, investigators applied for a second search warrant to access the time sheets to determine who was working in the rail traffic controller centre when the directive was issued.

A copy of the warrant was provided to the Review by the CBC.

The warrant accuses CP Rail, Jackson, and one or more rail traffic controllers of violating the Railway Safety Act by contravening an emergency directive issued by Transport Canada on October 29, 2014, that required all parked trains be secured with hand brakes.

Regulations governing handbrake applications are set out Rule 112 of the Canadian Railway Operating Plan. The rule sets out the number of hand brakes that must be applied depending on the weight of the train and steepness of the grade.

In September, Transport Canada investigators were in Revelstoke to examine the track in the Greeley area, however the warrant indicates they were not able to determine the grade of the track. The warrant ordered CP Rail to hand over the track profile for the section of rail in the Greeley area.

CP Rail said they were cooperating with investigators and would not comment while the investigation was ongoing.

The incident came on the heels of the July 2013 Lac Megantic disaster, when a runaway train that was left without brakes rolled down the hill into the heart of the small Quebec town, exploding and killing 47 people.

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