CP, CN to appeal Canadian government rule on use of handbrakes

Railroads say ministerial order, enacted after fatal derailment, has 'unintended consequences' and that there are better solutions
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CALGARY, Alberta — Canadian Pacific and Canadian National will appeal an order by the Canadian government requiring the use of handbrakes when trains stop on mountain grades, an order issued in the wake of a fatal CP accident in February.

In a press release issued Friday, CP President and CEO Keith Creel said the railroad will appeal the order issued on Feb. 8 because “the application of handbrakes in accordance with the Ministeral Order introduces additional risks and will have unintended consequences. …. (We) firmly believe safer options are available and we must get this right.”

CP said it will comply with the order while it appeals and said it will continue to “fully cooperate” with the ongoing investigation into the derailment on Kicking Horse Pass near Field, British Columbia, which resulted in the deaths of three crew members. [See “Three dead in CP derailment in British Columbia,” Trains News Wire, Feb. 4, 2019.] The initial stages of the investigation indicated the train ran away shortly after a crew change [see “Investigators: CP grain train ‘started to move on its own,’" Trains News Wire, Feb. 5, 2019], leading to the order issued by Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

The Toronto Star reports CN is also requesting a review of the rule, quoting an email from railroad spokesman Alexandre Boule: “CN has complied with this order since it came into force, but is of the view that alternative solutions are available that will more adequately address the safety objectives and the realities on the ground.”

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