Nova Scotia's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says the cause of last month's train derailment in Pictou County was a buckled section of track resulting from sudden and unusual changes in the temperature of the track. 

On Friday, the department released the results of its investigation into the June 9 derailment that forced the evacuation of several homes in West River Station. The five families forced out were allowed to return about a week later.  

Geoff MacLellan, minister of transportation and infrastructure renewal, says it's important for the government to understand what happened. 

"This was a serious incident affecting a number of Pictou County residents," he said in a news release.

"While as regulator, the department is satisfied with the corrective action taken by the railway, this doesn't mean that we're moving on from this issue. We have asked our inspectors to ensure the railway follows through on its preventative actions, and will be watching it very closely to ensure it is doing all it can to prevent another derailment."

In the release, the transportation department said Genesee & Wyoming Inc., the company that owns the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway, did the following after the derailment:

  • Replaced more than 90 metres of track with several 12-metre track panels "from the point of derailment through the derailment site to considerably reduce risks of track buckle."
  • Performed a stress test on the rail line.
  • Reviewed rail maintenance requirements with employees.
  • Developed a new training program for employees.
  • Restricted train speed to 40 km/h between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. for the summer. In extreme heat, train speed may be reduced to 16 km/h or train operation cancelled, if warranted.

The six derailed cars were carrying a mix of butane and propane, commonly referred to as liquid odourless propane, said RCMP. Police said there was no leak.

The train was travelling from Stellarton to Truro. Police say there were two people on board the train at the time but no one was injured.

This was the second train derailment in two weeks in Pictou County. Three rail cars carrying sheets of steel derailed in the downtown area of New Glasgow on May 29. No one was injured.


View Nova Scotia train derailments since 2000 in a larger map