The driver of a Calgary Transit CTrain was taken to hospital in serious condition after the train derailed at the Tuscany LRT station in the city’s northwest. The light-rail train crashed through the end of the track at more than 60 kilometres an hour.
A power pole and heavy weights that anchored the car pierced the windshield—just missing the operator—and leaving the front car totalled.
“The driver had been pinned in the cab so our crews had to extricate the driver,” Calgary Fire Department spokesperson John Cherweniuk said. “Luckily the passengers were in the back car and that car is still on the track now, so they were uninjured.”
Dan Duplessis was one of those passengers. He said he first thought the train was just moving further up the platform, but then it “accelerated as if going to the next station” despite having arrived at the end of the line.
“The train rapidly came to a halt with a crashing sound, throwing me across the row of seats,” Duplessis told Global News. “Several of the round interlocking pieces were ripped up from the impact.”
GALLERY: Take a look at photos taken by passenger Dan Duplessis from inside the derailed CTrain Tuesday morning
Duplessis said he pushed the emergency help button and was advised by transit security to stay on the train until first responders arrived, which he said took about 10 minutes.
“Medics banged on the door and checked to see if we were in any immediate danger and told us to wait,” Duplessis said. “Firefighters manually opened the door from the outside, which was undamaged, and helped us out of the train.”
Calgary Transit spokesperson Ron Collins said the three-car train left the tracks northwest of the station just before 7 a.m. Tuesday. Its $4.5-million replacement cost will be covered by insurance, officials said.
“The train had continued on beyond Tuscany station – which is the end terminal station – for whatever reason, and then went through the fence just off of the tail-track beyond Tuscany station – and then derailed,” Collins said. The so-called “tail track” at Tuscany station is the longest in the city.
“It’s just a question now of trying to determine what happened here.”
WATCH: Calgary Transit spokesperson Ron Collins speaks with Global Calgary about a train derailment at the Tuscany LRT station
The driver, a woman in her 60s, was transported to the Foothills Medical Centre in serious but stable condition. Transit officials hadn’t spoken to her as of 2 p.m., as she was medicated due to her injuries.
EMS spokesperson Stuart Brideaux said paramedics arrived at the scene prepared to treat multiple patients. Only three passengers were on board and none were injured.
WATCH: EMS spokesperson Stuart Brideaux speaks with Global Calgary about a train derailment at the Tuscany LRT station.
“I just wonder what happened,” transit rider Franco Frroku said. “Was it a malfunction of the actual train or was the driver at fault for it?”
Calgary Transit is investigating the derailment, scouring CCTV footage from cameras at the station and looking for information related to the brakes in the train’s black box recorder.
“We have to look at a lot of things. We have to look at the condition of the vehicle, the condition of the track, signals, as well as the operator,” Calgary Transit’s acting director Russell Davies said. “We expect to have some findings fairly soon, but there’s nothing pointing a specific way just yet.”
There were delays to CTrain service while crews worked to repair the line. A large crane was on its way to help with the cleanup mid-afternoon.
“Shuttle buses will be used during the afternoon commute between Crowfoot and Tuscany stations.”
The Tuscany CTrain Station is located on Crowchild Trail N.W. near Stoney Trail N.W.
“While traffic is flowing in both directions on Crowchild Trail, there are major delays in the area,” the City of Calgary said in a statement. “Motorists are encouraged to consider alternate options.”
Calgary’s light-rail transit has been running since 1981 and has expanded over the years to connect the northwest, northeast and south sectors of the city to the downtown core. Unlike subway systems in other major cities, nearly all of the 53 kilometres of track are above ground.
Davies said there have been accidents over the years involving pedestrians and vehicles, but this one is out of the ordinary.
“I’ve never seen one of this kind of severity of our own equipment and involving our own staff.”
With files from Erika Tucker and The Canadian Press