Diminished train horn led to fatal Sask. train crash, derailment

Transportation Safety Board says diminished train horn contributed to fatal 2013 crossing crash that killed grader operator, derailed 16 tank cars. Supplied / Sask. RCMP

VANCOUVER – The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has released its findings into a fatal 2013 crossing crash that killed a grader operator and caused the derailment of 16 oil tanker cars.

TSB says the diminished effectiveness of a CN Rail train horn was a contributing factor to the crash near Paynton, Sask. on Jan. 24, 2013.

The train, which RCMP said was travelling in reverse, hit a stationary road grader at a level crossing.

Of the 16 cars that derailed, four spilled around 106,000 litres of crude oil.

According to the report, the engine bell was activated and the engine horn was sounded several times before the train collided with the grader.

Investigators determined the grader operator’s attention was likely focused on resetting the blades for snow clearing and that the placement and orientation of the horn, along with the sound levels in the grader cab, resulted in the driver only having two seconds of audible warning before impact.

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TSB issued a rail safety advisory on Nov. 21. 2013 on the reduced effectiveness of train horns when the locomotive is operated with the long hood leading (reverse orientation).

The Transportation Development Centre is now undertaking a research project on audibility of locomotive horns under similar conditions as the fatal Paynton crash.

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