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Railway companies appeal ministerial order by Transport Canada issued after fatal crash

The order says trains must apply handbrakes during emergency stops on all grades over 1.8 per cent.

Order says trains must apply handbrakes during emergency stops on grades over 1.8%

Three people were killed when a CP Rail train derailed near Field, B.C., last month. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

The organization representing freight and passenger rail companies in Canada, along with two of the country's largest rail companies — CP and CN — are appealing a ministerial order issued by Transport Canada last month around the use of handbrakes.

The order says trains must apply handbrakes during emergency stops on all grades over 1.8 per cent.

It was issued by Transport Minister Marc Garneau on Feb. 8 following the fatal derailment of a CP train near Field, B.C.

"The application of handbrakes in accordance with the ministerial order introduces additional risks and will have unintended consequences," said CP president and CEO Keith Creel in a release.

"Safety is one of our foundational principles and we remain laser-focused on continued improvement in this area. We are seeking a review of the ministerial order because we firmly believe safer options are available and we must get this right."

Trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer, left, engineer Andrew Dockrell, centre, and conductor Dylan Paradis, right, were killed when a CP train derailed near Field, B.C. (Facebook)

The company says it will comply with the order during the appeal, which will be heard by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.

The Railway Association of Canada and CN are also appealing the order.

"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," the company said in an emailed statement.

"We hope to come to a mutually satisfactory solution with Transport Canada, but in the interim, CN is filing its request for review to protect its rights."

The deadline to file the appeal is March 10. 

Transport Canada continues to investigate the fatal crash, which will include checking for compliance with the Canada Labour Code and the Railway Safety Act.

Three crew members — trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer, engineer Andrew Dockrell and conductor Dylan Paradis — were killed when a runaway CP train derailed and plunged into the Kicking Horse River on Feb. 4.

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