Results of Goderich, Ont. train derailment investigation released

A train derailment in Goderich, Ont. is seen on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (Source: OPP West Region/Twitter)

An investigation into a train derailment in Goderich has concluded that an accidental release of the train's air brakes was to blame.

On February 1, the Goderich Exeter Railway was delivering train cars to the grain elevators in Goderich when a portion of the train derailed, slamming into vehicles and outbuildings.

The report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that as the locomotive engineer was getting up to leave the train for a moment, he accidentally released the train's air brakes.

The train’s independent brakes held the train momentarily, but eventually gave way, leading the train and six cars to hurtle towards the grain elevators, uncontrolled.

The uncontrolled train and cars reached a peak speed of more than 40 kilometres per hour, says the TSB investigation.

Seeing the train rolling towards him, the locomotive engineer tried to jump back aboard the moving train, but could not.

On its uncontrolled journey down a graded hill towards the grain elevators, the train destroyed a tractor trailer loaded with grain, hit and pinned a pickup truck and its two occupants, and levelled an historic fishing shed.

No one was injured due to the derailment and cleanup of the derailed train and its cars took approximately a week.

As part of its investigation, Transport Canada issued a letter of non-compliance to the Goderich Exeter Railway for equipment that was left not properly secured, and a ministry order to all rail companies to implement safety measures “to ensure that an accident caused by an unintentional release of air brakes do not reoccur.”

The Goderich Exeter Railway also made some changes following the derailement, issuing the following safety bulletin, “Locomotive Engineers operating in Goderich Yard are prohibited from exiting the cab of locomotives to perform other than functions that are directly related to Locomotive Engineers.”