Montreal train car derailment investigation finds evidence of tampering

A criminal investigation into Thursday's train derailment in Montreal's east end has found preliminary evidence of tampering.

Cars sitting on track for almost a year, not all brakes applied

A train car derailed in Montreal's east end on Thursday, striking a home. (CBC)

A criminal investigation into the derailment of train cars in Montreal's east end Thursday has found evidence of tampering, Canadian Pacific has confirmed.

Canadian Pacific Police Service and the Montreal Police are working jointly on the criminal investigation into the derailment, which saw five empty flat rail cars jump the tracks near Terrasse Thomas-Valin and Lespérance Street. 

Early results of the investigation suggest the cars may have been tampered with, resulting in their movement.

The Transportation Safety Board reported Friday that not all the brakes had been applied to the rail cars, which had been parked on the train tracks for almost a full year.

The cars, used to transport shipping containers, derailed in a residential area. One car hit a house, but nobody was injured. 

Guy Laporte, the TSB's regional senior investigator, said a block of 26 intermodal empty cars began rolling around 10:30 a.m.

The train rolled over a safety system called a derail, which allows runaway cars to derail before travelling too far and gaining too much speed. 

Laporte said the first train car to leave the tracks also hit a second derail device.

"The first car that was derailed ripped off the second [derail device] and continued its course in the direction of the house," he said.

"After losing the front truck [set of wheels], the car by itself hit the brick wall."

In all, five of the 26 cars jumped the tracks.

Laporte said the cars were parked on a slight grade toward the south. He said it appears the cars travelled about 300 metres.

Hand brakes not applied

Laporte said investigators looked at how many of the runaway cars had hand brakes, and out of the first five cars, one hand brake was missing or not applied.  

On the next four cars, the hand brakes had been removed, and the tenth car on the line had its hand brakes applied.

"The only thing I could say, for sure it was insufficient because it moved," said Laporte.

"There was not enough hand brakes applied yesterday morning."

Laporte said it's too early to tell when the brakes may have been removed.

Transport Canada introduced new rules for hand brakes earlier this year, in the wake of the Lac-Mégantic derailment.

The rules include a handbrake application chart for various operating situations, which once applied must be confirmed by another employee with an appropriate level of knowledge.


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