Railway Investigation R15H0021

Derailment and fire of second Canadian National crude oil train near Gogama, Ontario

The occurrence

On 07 March 2015, Canadian National (CN) crude oil unit train U70451-02  was proceeding eastward on CN's Ruel Subdivision near Gogama, Ontario. The train crew was composed of a locomotive engineer, a trainee and a conductor. The train was equipped with 2 head-end locomotives hauling 94 Class 111 tank cars loaded with Petroleum Crude Oil (UN 1267). The train was 6,089 feet long and weighed 14,355 tons.

Around 02:42, while travelling at about 43 mph, a train-initiated emergency brake application occurred near Mile 88.70. Looking back, the crew observed a fireball about 700 feet behind the locomotives. They detached the locomotives and first 5 cars behind the locomotives from the derailed cars, and pulled clear. The temperature at the time was about -10°C.

The train was designated as a “Key Train”Footnote 1 operating on a “Key Route.”Footnote 2 The accident occurred about 3 kilometres west of the town of Gogama, Ontario, in the vicinity of a CN rail bridge that traversed the Makami river. The CN Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) was implemented and a full incident command structure was established in the Gogama town hall. There were no injuries reported and no evacuation was required. All fires were extinguished by 10 March 2015.

Map of the area

Investigator-in-charge

Photo of George Fowler

George Fowler has been with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada since 2002. Prior to joining the TSB, he held various senior engineering positions during a 30 year career with CN in Edmonton, Kamloops, Montreal and Toronto.

Mr. Fowler has extensive knowledge and experience in railroad engineering and has been involved in the investigations of a number of serious railroad occurrences across Canada since joining the TSB.

Mr. Fowler graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in Civil Engineering and is a registered professional engineer.

Photos

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TSB investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation
  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

Report

Final report
2017-08-03

Railway Investigation Report R15H0021
Canadian National Railway Company
Freight train U70451-02
Mile 88.75, Ruel Subdivision
Gogama, Ontario
07 March 2015

Safety communications

Recommendations
2017-08-03

TSB Recommendation R17-02: The Department of Transport acquire rail surface condition data, including information on localized surface collapse, rail end batter and crushed heads, and incorporate it into its risk-based planning approach for targeted regulatory track inspections.

All rail recommendations

Safety advisories
2015-03-17

Rail Safety Advisory Letter 04/15: Condition of track infrastructure on CN Ruel subdivision
Read the rail safety advisory letter

Other correspondence
2014-10-09

Letter to Transport Canada regarding: Replacement and Retrofit of Class 111 Tank Cars
Read the letter

2014-10-09

Letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regarding: Replacement and Retrofit of Class 111 Tank Cars
Read the letter

Media materials

News releases
2017-08-03

TSB recommends the use of leading indicators to help better focus track inspections following 2015 derailment near Gogama, Ontario
Read the news release

2015-03-17

Derailment and fire of second Canadian National crude oil train near Gogama, ON
Read the news release

Backgrounders
2017-08-03

Investigation findings for TSB investigation (R15H0021) into the March 2015 derailment and fire of a Canadian National crude oil train near Gogama, Ontario
Read the backgrounder

2017-08-03

Safety communications for TSB investigation (R15H0021) into the March 2015 derailment and fire of a Canadian National crude oil train near Gogama, Ontario
Read the backgrounder

2017-08-03

Information about tank cars that carry flammable liquids
Read the backgrounder

Speeches and presentations
2017-08-03

News conference for Gogama (R15H0021): Opening remarks
Read the remarks

Media advisories
2017-08-01

TSB will hold a news conference to release its investigation report into the March 2015 derailment and fire of a CN crude oil train near Gogama, Ontario
Read the media advisory

2017-07-17

TSB will hold a news conference to release its investigation report into the March 2015 derailment and fire of a CN crude oil train near Gogama, Ontario
Read the media advisory

Deployment notice
2015-03-07

TSB deploys team to crude oil train derailment and fire 3 km west of Gogama, Ontario
Read the deployment notice

Footnotes

Footnote 1

A “Key Train” is defined as any train containing 1 or more cars of Poison Inhalation Hazard (PIH) or Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) material, such as anhydrous ammonia, ammonia solutions, spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste, or containing 20 car loads, or intermodal portable tank loads, of any combination of other hazardous materials (e.g., crude oil).

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

A “Key Route” is defined as any track on which, over a period of one year, is carried 10,000 or more loaded tank cars or loaded intermodal portable tanks containing dangerous goods, as defined in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992, or any combination thereof that includes 10,000 or more loaded tank cars and loaded intermodal portable tanks.

Return to footnote 2 referrer