Calgary Transit makes safety changes in wake of Tuscany crash

Calgary Transit has made safety improvements at all of its end-of-line stations to prevent another LRT crash like the one that happened last year at the Tuscany station.

Video obtained by CBC News shows moment of crash, passengers being thrown from seats

The derailed C-Train left the tracks just beyond the platform at the Tuscany LRT station in northwest Calgary the morning of Sept. 20, 2016. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Calgary Transit has made safety changes to prevent a repeat of last year's Tuscany station LRT crash, which hospitalized the C-Train operator and injured three passengers.

On the morning of Sept. 20, 2016, the operator drove a three-car train off the end of the tracks just west of Tuscany station.

The operator suffered significant injuries and three passengers on board the train that day at 7 a.m. suffered minor injuries.

One light-rail vehicle was so severely damaged it was written off. Two others were damaged but repaired.

Soon after the incident, transit officials concluded the derailment was caused by operator error.

Documents obtained by CBC News through requests under the freedom of information act indicate the operator did not follow operational procedures for taking the C-Train out of the service area and onto the "tail track" at the end of the line.

Watch CCTV footage of the Tuscany LRT crash from both the inside of the train and the platform

5 years ago
Duration 0:24
The three-car C-Train was going 60 km/h when it left the tracks and struck a power pole on Sept. 20, 2016.

Calgary Transit requires operators to notify a controller before leaving the main line and to follow a 10 km/h speed limit on a tail track.

A report prepared by Calgary Transit on the derailment states that because the operator didn't follow these procedures, that "would indicate no realization as to their location."

Essentially, the train was operated as if it was leaving Tuscany station and heading back toward downtown.

The report states the train accelerated to approximately 65 km/h for nearly 250 metres before running off the end of the tracks.

Data from an on-board recording device showed that the brakes were not applied before the train derailed.

Operators reminded to be attentive

After the crash, documents show C-Train operators were reminded of the procedures for leaving mainline service areas and to be "attentive to their location."

All operators were also reminded that they must seek permission from a controller before entering a yard or tail track. 

The operator of the train that crashed was put on paid leave while recovering from injuries sustained in the accident.

Documents obtained by CBC News through a freedom of information request report the C-Train accelerated to approximately 65 km/h for nearly 250 metres before running off the end of the tracks. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

No information is available about whether that person, described as a senior operator, is still employed by Calgary Transit or if there was any disciplinary action.

There was no evidence the operator suffered a medical issue prior to the crash.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents Calgary Transit staff, did not return calls on the matter.

New equipment in place

In the wake of the derailment, Calgary Transit has made some equipment changes that could prevent a similar crash from occurring.

Transit spokesperson Sherri Zickefoose said the changes include new signage and automated flashing lights that would alert a train operator they are nearing the end of the line.

Magnetic train stops have also been placed on the tail tracks at all four end-of-line stations. The device can automatically halt a C-Train passing over it. 

Transit requires operators to notify a controller before leaving the main line and to follow a 10 km/h speed limit on a tail track. The report said the operator didn't follow these procedures the day of the crash. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

"This was an exceptionally rare event," said Zickefoose. 

"We hope that with the flashing lights, the signage and that magnetic strip, that we can help prevent this from ever happening again."

She estimates those improvements cost about $120,000 to equip each of the four end-of-line stations

That only added to the pricetag of the crash.

Insurance covered the $4 million cost of replacing the most badly-damaged C-Train car with a new one.

Repairs on two other damaged light-rail vehicles were estimated at $1.5 million. That cost was also covered by insurance.

An investigation by the province's occupational health and safety branch has not yet been completed on the incident.


Scott Dippel

Politics Reporter

Scott Dippel has been at CBC News for more than two decades across four provinces. His roles have included legislative reporter, news reader, assignment editor and national reporter. When not at Calgary's City Hall, it's still all politics, all the time.