CANADIAN RAILWAY OFFICE OF ARBITRATION
& DISPUTE RESOLUTION
CASE NO. 3881
CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY
the termination of Locomotive Engineer Ken Cranston effective
JOINT STATEMENT OF ISSUE:
disagrees and denies the
(SGD.) D. ABLE (SGD.) D. McFARLANE
GENERAL CHAIRMAN ASSISTANT VICE-PRESIDENT – OPERATIONS
There appeared on behalf of the Company:
B. Deacon – Labour Relations Officer,
J. Bairaktaris – Director, Labour Relations,
A. A. Garcia – Manager, Labour Relations,
D. Corrigan – Labour Relations Officer,
V. White – Assistant Labour Relations
D. Purdon – Manager, Operations,
D. Burke – Project Specialist,
And on behalf of the
M. A. Church – Counsel,
D. Able – General Chairman,
G. Edwards – Sr. Vice-General Chairman, Revelstoke
R. Purtill – Local Chairman,
D. Olson –
G. Hiscock – Local Chairman (CTY),
B. Wiszniak – Local Chairman (CTY),
R. Millar – Conductor
K. Cranston – Grievor
AWARD OF THE ARBITRATOR
material before the Arbitrator confirms that the grievor was principally
responsible for an extremely serious collision and derailment involving three
trains at Centennial on the Weyburn Subdivision on
As the grievor’s train proceeded southwards he and his conductor received a clearance to proceed, protecting against train 292-045, which was also proceeding southward ahead of them. At 07:30 the grievor’s train received a clearance with operating authority which allowed its movement from the south siding switch at Weyburn to the south siding switch at Centennial, however protecting against train 292-05 from the north siding switch at Centennial. In other words, the grievor’s train could not proceed past the north siding switch at Centennial without express permission from train 292-05.
As the grievor’s movement approached Ralph at Mile 94.0 on the Weyburn Subdivision he and his conductor failed to announce on the standby channel the location of their first restriction, the north siding switch at Centennial. That was a violation of CROR Rule 90. It appears that Conductor Millar was then in touch with the RTC, requesting more authority to advance towards train 292-05 beyond the north siding switch. At that point the grievor and his conductor were told that train 292-05 was stopped at Centennial awaiting the arrival of northbound train 497-04. The plan was for the northbound train to take the siding at Centennial, after which train 292-05 would be free to proceed. It appears that both crew members were surprised to learn of the location of train 292-05 as it would normally run at a more substantial distance ahead of them. Unfortunately, even after this discussion, by the grievor’s own admission, he then planned to stop at the south switch at Centennial, notwithstanding that his authorization was only to the north siding switch and his notification that train 292-05 was then stopped at Centennial.
When the crew reached mile 95.1 they received “close-up” instructions from train 292-05. That allowed their train to move past the north siding switch and approach the section of track that was occupied by train 292-05. In other words they were authorized to move closer to the train which they were still advised was then stopped. Contrary to CROR Rule 303.1(e), neither the grievor nor his conductor wrote down the close-up instructions. Additionally, when Conductor Millar called out the close-up restriction when they reached the mile board for Centennial, the grievor failed to acknowledge the communication which she was then making on the radio, as required by CROR Rule 90.
reflects that as the crew approached the north switch at Centennial, Conductor
Millar was preoccupied with paper work. It is not disputed that the sight lines
at that location were unobstructed and that conditions were clear on a sunlit
day, with no impediment to the crew’s vision of the track ahead of them. From a
distance of approximately two miles the grievor could see train 292-05. He had
previously been advised that it was stopped. He
Shortly thereafter, after thirty seconds of normal brake application, the grievor placed his train into emergency braking mode, but not soon enough to prevent a collision with the rear end of train 292-05 at a speed of 19.5 miles per hour. The ensuing collision was enormous, derailing a total of ten cars on three separate trains and igniting fire which forced the evacuation of local residents.
were no fatalities or serious injuries, the consequences of the collision were
extreme. A total of ten cars from three trains were involved in a main track
derailment, causing the closure of the Weyburn Subdivision for some thirty
hours, after which only the siding was available for a substantial period for
the movement of through traffic. A fire was ignited involving five of the
derailed cars, burning for some twenty-four hours and requiring the evacuation
of the public in the area. Highway 39, the main
During the course of the ensuing disciplinary investigation the grievor was asked why he believed he had authority to move to the south switch at Centennial when in fact he had received instructions from train 292-05 to perform nothing more than a close-up. His answer is as follows:
Prior to any of these discussions I believed that we would be going to the south switch. I thought they would be long gone when we arrived, unfortunately they were not and I did not recognize this until it was too late.
Following the disciplinary investigation the Company dismissed the grievor for the tail end collision and for his violation of the various operating rules as cited in the joint statement of issue.
There is no dispute that the grievor committed a number of grave errors in the operation of his train on the day in question. Perhaps most disturbingly, he continued to operate under an assumption which was entirely contrary to the objective facts which had been communicated to him repeatedly, most particularly that at all relevant times train 292-05 was stopped just north of the south siding switch at Centennial. Notwithstanding repeated communication of that fact to him, Locomotive Engineer Cranston continued to operate in the belief that he should handle his train so as to come to a stop at the south siding switch, in an area plainly occupied by the other train. His failure to properly seize the reality which was unfolding was the primary cause of the disastrous rear-end collision which resulted, derailing parts of three separate trains, igniting a substantial fire and causing a serious environmental spill, substantial disruption to local residents and the closing of an important highway.
The sole issue
in these proceedings is the appropriate measure of discipline. In defence of
the grievor counsel for the
Are there mitigating circumstances which would suggest that termination is not appropriate in the case at hand? Regrettably, the Arbitrator cannot so conclude. While Mr. Cranston is an employee of some thirty years’ service, the record confirms that he has had a long series of operating rules violations over the years. Having been disciplined a total of nineteen times over his career, he received twenty demerits less than a year prior to the incident here under examination when he failed to restore a main track switch to its normal position, running through the switch as a result. Earlier, in 2005 his failure to properly judge the speed of his train caused him to fail to stop short of the north siding switch at Wilcox, causing a run-through of that switch. In fact, he was involved in unsafe operating practices on at least nine occasions prior to the culminating incident that is the subject of this arbitration. On the whole, having close regard to the fact of the case and to the grievor’s prior service, the Arbitrator can understand the perception of the Company and does not consider this an appropriate case for a reduction of penalty.
The grievance must therefore be dismissed.
March 16, 2010 (original signed by) MICHEL G. PICHER