Crews clean up freight train derailment in midtown Toronto

Crews have cleared train cars and locomotives from the site of Canadian Pacific Railway derailment in midtown Toronto on Sunday that resulted in a leak of 1,200 litres of diesel fuel near a residential area.

Transport minister says he'll act fast if safety lapses caused Toronto derailment

Neighbours check out the train derailment cleanup at Howland Avenue and Dupont Street near Bathurst Street in Toronto. A westbound freight train clipped the last three cars of a second train that was headed eastbound. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Crews have cleared train cars and locomotives from the site of Canadian Pacific Railway derailment in midtown Toronto on Sunday that resulted in a leak of 1,200 litres of diesel fuel near a residential area.

Two freight trains, going in opposite directions, sideswiped each other Sunday morning at about 5:20 a.m. ET, in the area of Howland Avenue and Dupont Street, east of Bathurst Street. The derailment damaged the tracks. No one was injured.

Martin Cej, spokesperson for Calgary-based CP Rail, said the derailed cars and locomotives have been removed, track work is continuing, and an investigation and an environmental assessment are underway.

"Safety is the top priority and will dictate the pace and progress of the work," Cej said in a statement.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating. 

CP Rail said early indications suggest human error was to blame.

Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents Ward 22, St. Paul's, told CBC's Metro Morning on Monday that the derailment raises serious concerns.

"Having this derailment happen so close to home, certainly I hope it serves as a wake-up call to the federal government to accelerate their commitments on improving safety standards as we requested," he said.

"It's far too close to home."
Trains are running again past the site of a train derailment in Toronto. The derailment at 5:20 a.m. ET Sunday damaged CP Rail tracks, but no one was injured. Officials said there were no public safety concerns. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Matlow, along with 16 other councillors, wrote a letter to Transportation Minister Marc Garneau in March that included a call for an examination of alternative routes for transportation of dangerous goods.

Toronto Mayor John Tory also signed the letter.

"There's obviously an ongoing debate about carrying a lot of these dangerous goods," Matlow said. "If there are routes to move these goods in ways where they don't go through the most densely populated neighbourhoods, I think it's reasonable to look at what routes are possible."

Garneau said Monday he intends to act swiftly if it's determined safety lapses caused the derailment.

"The next step is, of course, to find out what happened, why did this collision occur between two trains going in opposite
directions, what were the consequences," he said on his way into a cabinet retreat in Sudbury, Ont.

"My aim is to reduce as much as possible these kinds of incidents, and so I intend to act swiftly if we find that there are things that we need to be doing that we haven't been doing in the past."

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he wants to know what caused a train derailment in Toronto Sunday that led to a spill of 1,200 litres of fuel and left three train cars leaning over. (CBC)

In Sunday's derailment, the train travelling westbound clipped a few cars on the train travelling eastbound near a crossover, an area where the trains can switch tracks.

The three final cars of the train that was sideswiped were carrying small quantities of dangerous goods including batteries, alcoholic beverages, aerosol containers and non-flammable gases under pressure, according to the TSB. None of those goods was released during the collision.

The diesel fuel did not get into storm sewers or waterways, and officials said it posed no threat to the public. 

Matlow said the letter to Garneau also called for more communication about the type and amount of dangerous goods being transported by rail within municipalities.

Emergency services in municipalities receive information about that transportation, but the information is not shared with the public due to confidentiality agreements, he said.
After the two Canadian Pacific trains collided, causing cars to derail, 1,200 litre of diesel fuel leaked, although crews were able to contain the leak. (CBC)

"The public simply wants to have a better understanding of what's going right next to their homes."

He said there are CN tracks that run north of Toronto that the CP might be able to use if it could negotiate an agreement with CN.

"I would like the government to get all of the rail companies together and say, we have to find out the best ways to mitigate risk in the most densely populated neighbourhoods of our country. Anything that we can do to mitigate risk, I think that is reasonable to consider," he said.

"We don't want to have a disaster like Lac-Mégantic happen in the heart of Toronto."

Canadian Pacific crews work to put a locomotive back on the rails after Sunday's incident in which two trains clipped each other. (CBC)

With files from The Canadian Press