CANADIAN RAILWAY OFFICE OF ARBITRATION
& DISPUTE RESOLUTION
CASE NO. 3974
assessment of discharge to Mr. M.C. Smith, effective 10 March 2009, for his
“failure to properly secure your train on the Ontario Hyrdro Spur, Mile 0.00
Hagersville Subdivision on
JOINT STATEMENT OF ISSUE:
investigation was conducted and Mr. M. Smith was dismissed
The Company considers this train derailment as a most serious event which, when taking into account with Mr. Smith’s short service and prior discipline record, warrants the assessed penalty of discharge.
therefore disagrees with the
(SGD.) R. LECLERC (SGD.) P. TOUSENARD
GENERAL CHAIRMAN REGIONAL VICE-PRESIDENT
There appeared on behalf of the Company:
J. P. Krawec –
P. Touesnard –
Regional Vice-President, Rail
D. MacKenzie – General Manager, S.O.R.
There appeared on behalf of the
R. Leclerc – General Chairman, Grand-Mère
M. Smith – Grievor
AWARD OF THE ARBITRATOR
involves a relatively harrowing event. By an admitted failure on the part of
the grievor, a train comprised of four locomotives, twenty-six loaded cars and
seventeen empty cars rolled free on the Ontario Hydro Spur of the Hagersville
Subdivision reaching speeds of twenty-one miles per hours over a distance of
1.4 miles before it derailed near an Ontario Power Generating Plant (OPG) at
confirms that on
Only some four minutes after he left, an event recorder shows that the unsecured train began to roll southward at an increasing speed which eventually reached 20.7 mph before it struck a derail close to the OPG Plant at Nanticoke, after travelling some 1.4 miles. The derailment involved several hazardous goods cars and the spillage of substantial quantities of gasoline.
A subsequent investigation conducted by the Transport Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found a number of errors committed by Mr. Smith, including those related herein. It also found that the Company had taken insufficient measures to ensure that its crews were following safe practices. For example, it does not appear disputed that the train should have been secured in nearby Garnett Yard, and not left on the sloping track of the spur. In that regard the report of the TSB includes, in part, the following:
Findings as to Causes and Contributing Factors
1. The accident occurred when the crew left the train unattended on a one per cent grade, without the train being properly secured. Subsequently, the train rolled uncontrolled downgrade for 1.4 miles, across an unprotected crossing, reaching a speed of 20.7 mph before it encountered a split switch derail and derailed the nine tail-end cars.
2. The automatic brake valve was prematurely moved to the “cutout” position, trapping a pressure gradient within the train air brake line. As the pressure gradient equalized, it sequentially activated the quick service release of the air brakes on all freight cars behind the locomotives.
3. Because no other locomotive in the consist was set in the controlling position, the supply of air pressure required to maintain independent brakes was cut off, which permitted all locomotive independent brakes to bleed off and release.
4. With all freight car and locomotive air brakes released, the absence of a sufficient number of handbrakes applied left the train unsecured.
5. The train crew and company deviated from a number of standard operating practices associated with train securement, each of which increased the risk for an uncontrolled movement to occur and contributed to the accident.
6. With only one crew member left at the end of the shift, the other crew members did not have an opportunity to verify whether the train was properly secured.
7. Insufficient company oversight allowed the deviations in standard operating practices to occur.
disciplinary investigation the Company dismissed Mr. Smith for his involvement
in the runaway of the train and its derailment. In doing so it took into
account that he had been previously disciplined, on
In my view the matter is further aggravated by the prior disciplinary record incurred by Mr. Smith. Only a few months prior to the incident here under review, in August of 2008, he was involved in a violation of the same rule, CROR rule 112, when cars that he was to secure were in fact left standing unsecured, causing them to roll out of their storage track, resulting in a collision.
When the whole
of the record is examined, including the seriousness of the event of
For all of the foregoing reasons the grievance must be dismissed.