Railway accidents increased seven per cent in 2018 but fatalities fell: TSB report

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the number of railway accidents increased by seven per cent last year including those involving dangerous goods, but there were fewer fatalities.

There were 1,170 accidents, up from 1,091 in 2017 and above the five-year average of 1,035, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday.

Fatalities decreased to 57 from 76 a year earlier but the number of serious injuries rose to 91 from 65 primarily due to events at crossings.

Accidents involving dangerous goods increased 9% to 125 from 115, with six resulting in the release of dangerous materials.

There were 17 main-track derailments and 62 on secondary tracks involving five or fewer cars, up from 10 and 54 respectively in 2017. 

The increased derailments came amid a 5.6% increase in gross ton miles traffic.

"All said, we believe that the statistics are encouraging in many important areas, thereby suggesting that the railroads are operating at a high level of safety,'' analyst Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets wrote in a research note.