Inspector: Unattended MM&A train had too few handbrakes set days after Lac-Mégantic disaster

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Aftermath of the Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, crude oil derailment and fire in July 2013.
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
SHERBROOKE, Quebec — Jurors in the Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, oil train disaster trial must now decide what weight to put on evidence that another Montreal, Maine & Atlantic train stopped above the town two days after the 2013 derailment and wreck with just half the required number of handbrakes.

A former Transport Canada inspector told jurors on Monday that an MM&A train stopped in nearby Vachon, Que., with handbrakes of only five of 10 cars required for the train's 89-car length — and was left unattended.

The inspector, Alain Richer said that the MM&A's own manual required that at least 10 brakes be tied down based on a calculation of the number of total freight cars, divided by 10 and adding 2 the CBC reports.

Richer said he noticed the defect when inspecting the train and notified a railroad supervisor who sent an employee. That employee tied down seven more handbrakes, while an MM&A assistant director of operations tied down another 3 for 15 total handbrakes set on the train.

Reported testimony did not include the train's commodity or destination.

Three railroaders: Thomas Harding, Jean Demaitre, and Richard Labrie, are charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death in the July 6, 2013, derailment and wreck of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic crude oil train. That wreck killed 47 people and destroyed much of downtown Lac-Mégantic.
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