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Rail Safety Advisory Letter 617-07/18

Securement of loads on flat cars equipped with an A-frame structure

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09 October 2018

Safety advisory letter 617-07/18
Related occurrence: R18D0069

Letter addressed to Transport Canada

Subject: Rail Safety Advisory Letter – 617-07/18: Securement of loads on flat cars equipped with an A-frame structure

On 16 July 2018, at approximately 1845 Eastern Daylight Time, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) conventional freight train 142-14 experienced a train-initiated emergency brake application in the vicinity of Mile 36.6 on the south track of CP's Winchester Subdivision, near Saint-Polycarpe, Quebec. The train, proceeding eastward at 37.5 mph, consisted of 2 locomotives, 76 loaded cars, and 19 empty cars. It was 9405 feet in length and weighed about 11 260 tons. Upon inspection, it was determined that 23 cars had derailed. There were no injuries and no release of dangerous goods (TSB Occurrence No. R18D0069).

During site examination, it was noted that a 20-foot-long stock rail, which had been bundled with some crossties and secured using AAR33 steel banding on car CP 421885,Footnote 1 had come loose and fallen from the trailing end of the car just prior to the occurrence (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Car CP 421885 (view of trailing end). Note: The yellow arrow indicates the location where the ties and stock rail had been strapped with steel banding to the deck. The white arrows indicate the mount locations where stock rails should be secured using elastic fasteners.
Car CP 421885, view of trailing end

In April 2018, the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) published its open top loading rules for A-frame-type flat cars (Annex A).Footnote 2 Similarly, in June 2018, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) published its open top loading rules (Annex B).Footnote 3 In both the RAC rules and the AAR rules, the following guidance (in part) is provided for securing track materials onto a flat car with an A-frame structure:

In this occurrence, the ties and stock rail had been loaded onto car CP 421885 at CP's Weston Shops in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Between January 2018 and July 2018, 28 other similar cars (i.e., flat cars equipped with an A-frame structure) were loaded with track materials and shipped from CP's Weston Shops. In May 2018, CP identified a previous shifted top load event involving track materials that had been secured onto car CP 421895 at Alyth Yard in Calgary, Alberta.

Given the potential consequences when loads shift during train operations, Transport Canada may wish to review the adequacy of CP's open top loading practices, particularly when transporting track materials on flat cars equipped with an A-frame structure.

Original signed by

Kirby Jang
Investigation Operations, Rail/Pipeline


Annex A – RAC 12010 – Track Panels of Mixed Lengths on Flat Cars Equipped with Permanent A-Frame Structure

RAC 12010 - 1/2
RAC 12010 - 2/2

Annex B – AAR Open Top Loading Rules

AAR Open Top Loading Rules - 1/2
AAR Open Top Loading Rules - 2/2

Background information

Occurrence No.



Don Mustard, Regional Senior Investigator, Richmond Hill Regional Office, Ontario

Manuel Kotchounian, Engineering Specialist/Senior Investigator, Pipeline, Head Office, Gatineau, Quebec