News release

Associated links (R19H0021)

TSB investigation highlights risks of leaving track maintenance materials between rails while passenger trains are in operation

Richmond Hill, Ontario, 8 April 2020 — Today the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its report on the investigation (R19H0021) into the 2019 collision of a VIA Rail Canada Inc. (VIA) passenger train and track maintenance material left between the rails near Brighton, Ontario.

On 02 February 2019, a VIA train with 302 passengers on board was proceeding eastward on the north track of the Canadian National (CN) Kingston Subdivision when it experienced a train-initiated emergency brake application near Brighton, Ontario. The train had passed over track maintenance material that CN had placed between the rails in preparation for a rail installation the following day.

As the train moved over the material, some tie plates and ballast became airborne, damaging the train and striking a nearby CN hi-rail vehicle occupied by four CN employees. One of the employees seated in the hi-rail vehicle was seriously injured. There were no injuries to the crew or passengers aboard the train. However, a fuel tank on one of the locomotives was punctured and released about 1600 gallons (7274 litres) of diesel fuel.

The investigation determined that as the train passed over the maintenance material, a spike holding a deflector tie plate on the west end of a replacement rail became loose, and dislodged allowing the plate to fall from its location. When subjected to airflow beneath the train, the deflector tie plate became airborne, striking nearby unsecured tie plates and ballast, which in turn became airborne and struck the underside of the train. Some tie plates and ballast were subsequently expelled from beneath the train and contacted the hi-rail vehicle.

Following the occurrence, the TSB issued a Rail Safety Advisory Letter to CN and VIA suggesting that they identify and implement measures to ensure that VIA trains can travel safely through locations where track materials are placed between the rails in preparation for maintenance work. Subsequently, CN issued instructions that no tie plates or other track material be left between the rails on all high-speed passenger train corridors.

See the investigation page for more information.


The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca

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