The Transportation Safety Board held a news briefing on its investigation into the CP Rail train derailment that occurred in the early hours of Monday morning east of Field.
An initial investigation suggests the train lost control near the top of the Spiral Tunnels, which has been the location of other train accidents, as recently as Jan. 3, 2019.
Three men lost their lives in the derailment that occurred around 1 a.m. MST on Feb. 4. All three were from Calgary: conductor Dylan Paradis, engineer Andrew Dockrell and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer.
The crew had just changed over at the Partridge station, as the previous crew was reaching their maximum hours worked. The train then made its way west, headed for Vancouver. It came to a stop at the Spiral Tunnels, waiting for clearance of no oncoming trains to proceed, and the emergency brakes were deployed.
TSB investigators said it appears the train somehow began to move. The maximum speed in that area is 20 MPH, and the train began to move faster down the steep terrain.
“There was not anything the crew did. The train just started moving on its own,” said railway/pipeline investigator James Carmichael with the Transportation Safety Board.
“The loss of control was a situation where the crew members can no longer maintain the designated track speed. Investigation will determine how and why the loss of control took place.”
It was not yet clear how fast the train had been going.
The TSB will look into the grade of the tracks in that area, the curvature, and many other elements that could have led to the crash. The team will also look into other investigations performed in the past, and contact the previous crew and parts manufacturers.
In total, 112 train cars plummeted down the embankment and crashed, with one car even landing in the Kicking Horse River.
It is common for CP Rail to run a two-person crew on their trains, but in this instance, there were three, with trainee Waldenberger-Bulmer.
When asked if this is a typical route for trainees to be working in, given the steep terrain and safety precautions that must be followed, Carmichael said CP Rail’s trainee program is meant to teach trainees how to operate through all territories.