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Via Rail nearly has a major accident and no reports in the news? TSB: On 6 June 2006 VIA Rail narrowly avoided a major catastrophe near Stratford

By shost at 3:46 pm on Monday, October 24, 2011

Chalk this up to how long it takes the TSB to report on accidents, but on 6 June 2006, if you were on VIA Rail #87 you came within 2-3 minutes of being in a major accident with a freight train.


Here’s the summary of events:

  • On this day VIA Rail, west of Petersburg, Ontario was travelling on it’s merry way and presumably recieved authority to pass a freight train
  • They (VIA Rail) recieved the wrong authority and mistakenly contacted the wrong GEXR freight train, none of whom caught the error
  • The vigilence of the ACTUAL Freight crew near Stratford that was supposed to give them authority and noticed the mistake avoided the accident thanks to a wayside defect detector
  • The VIA train and GEXR Freight trian came within 1 mile of each other (3 minutes train time) and narrowly avoided the accident
  • But the freight or passenger train employees did not report the incident (how it was actually reported is beyond me) – a culture of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ seems to persist in railroading (which is noted in the report)

How come none of this was reported in the media? 90 people come minutes from a major change of dying, major lapse of safety occures and no one is informed.

The good news: VIA Rail and GEXR have taken steps to minimize the possibility of this type of accident happening again — they installed Radio towers (as opposed to using cell phones for train clearances) in the last 2 years and this would have avoided the accident from nearly occuring should it have had happened with radio towers in service.

The bad news — The Guelph subdivision is still “Dark Territory” and until GO/VIA actually get together and implement Centralized Traffic Control as they had planned to do for GO/VIA proposed expansion and EA, the risk of an accident, although low, is still higher than it should be, and is more so since GO is implementing additional trains on our line without any new signalling improvements for safety.

Media organizations: Get the word out, inform the public, and let’s get policy changed to improve safety of our railways.  If this was a road accident something would have been done about it, but alas here we are!

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Comment by Tom West

October 25, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

The scary part to me is *not* that there was nearly a collision. With the system in place, it is eitable that some minor error like this would occur sooner or later.

No, the scary part is that the crew DID NOT REPORT THE INCIDENT. That is unforgivable, and the relevant people should be fired, making it quite clear that the silence got them fired, not the incident itself.

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Comment by Dan

October 28, 2011 @ 10:28 am

Did you forget already that GEXR has been fighting tooth-and-nail against the improvements proposed by VIA and GO – which include a CTC system?

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Comment by Tom West

November 16, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

That spam post above is trying too hard…

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Comment by shost

November 16, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

(spam post deleted)

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