Two years after disaster, train brake safety is still lax in Canada

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Transport Canada has ordered Canadian Pacific Railways to correct safety violations involving the testing of brakes on some of its trains in western Canada.

According to a short Reuters news item being circulated by Teamsters Canada, the orders were given in a letter to CP on Sept. 3, 2015. The letter stated a safety inspector had confirmed that the company was not carrying out legally required emergency brake tests on trains originating in Moose Jaw, Sask., a busy train yard on CP’s main line.

News of these recent violations comes on the heels of claims that CP did not properly apply the brakes of train that was sitting on mountain slope in British Columbia.

These incidents failed to generate major media play, despite the potential consequences. In 2013 a runaway train derailed and exploded in the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47. The disaster was caused in part by the failure of the train operator to properly apply the brakes of a train owned and operated by Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway.

In its letter Transport Canada asked the company to respond in a minimum of 14 days with corrective actions it plans to take. The letter specified, “This information has been confirmed by conversations with Moose Jaw mechanical supervisors and staff that this is the current process.”

The safety violations have received limited coverage beyond some stories by CBC and Reuters. The Teamsters Union, which represents workers at CP Rail, has tried to spread the news via its website.


Allison Martell,“CP Ordered to Correct Alleged Safety Violations,” Reuters, Aug. 1, 2015,

CBC News, “CP Rail in probe of hand-brake use,” July 22, 2015.

Student Researcher: Michael Joel-Hansen (University of Regina)

Faculty Evaluator: Patricia W. Elliott (University of Regina)