CP Rail is being investigated for allegedly leaving a train parked east of Revelstoke without proper brakes being applied.
According to the CBC, Transport Canada investigators raided CP Rail’s headquarters in Calgary in May as part of an investigation into the alleged failure to apply hand brakes on a train carrying dangerous goods, including oil.
The report is based on a search warrant filed in a Calgary court. CBC reporter Dave Seglins provided a copy of the warrant to the Review.
The warrant was filed by Robert Blair, an inspector with Transport Canada, in an Alberta court on May 14. In it, he seeks permission to obtain rail traffic recordings from CP Rail.
The warrant alleges that Canadian Pacific and superintendent Mark Jackson violated the Rail Safety Act by leaving 57 rail cars unattended without the hand brakes applied on Feb. 15, 2015.
The alleged 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 Greely, 10 kilometres east, and uphill, of Revelstoke. 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.
Mayor Mark McKee said the report was a concern for the community, but he wanted to see where the investigation leads.
“I find it hard to believe they’re going to leave a train with the potential to run away into downtown Revelstoke,” he said. “I find it hard to believe someone would do that deliberately.”
Transport Canada spokesperson Sara Johnston confirmed the investigation was ongoing. She said the agency would not comment further on the alleged incident.
Martin Cej, the vice-president of public affairs for CP Rail, said the company was cooperating with Transport Canada.
“We’ll continue to cooperate but as this is an ongoing investigation, we have no further comment,” he said.
No charges have been laid. The allegations, if proven true, could result in a fine of up to $1 million, revocation of the Railway Operating Certificate, court orders and criminal prosecution.
The allegations raise the spectre of another Lac Megantic, when improperly applied hand brakes led to a runaway train exploding and destroying part of a Quebec community.