Railway Investigation R16T0111

Uncontrolled movement

The occurrence

On 17 June 2016, a Canadian National Railway (CN) yard assignment crew, using a remote control locomotive system called a “Beltpack,” was performing a switching operation in CN’s MacMillan Yard, in Toronto, Ontario. The movement consisted of 2 yard locomotives and a slave unit, coupled to 74 cars.

While pulling out onto the main track in preparation to back into the yard to perform switching, the crew was unable to stop the movement and it travelled uncontrolled from Mile 24.20 of the York Subdivision. It reached speeds of up to 29 mph before coming to a stop on an uphill grade at Mile 21. There were no conflicting train movements and no injuries were reported.

Map of the area


Photo of Robert Bruder

Robert Bruder joined the Transportation Safety Board in September of 2013 as Regional Senior Investigator Rail/Pipeline at the TSB’s Toronto office. Mr. Bruder has an extensive background in railway operations and risk management garnered over a 36-year career with CN Rail. He managed CN’s Risk Management Department for Eastern Canada from 2004 to 2013, and was extensively involved in development and implementation of CN’s safety management system, accident/injury investigation, analysis and cause-finding processes, as well as derailment emergency response and mitigation.

Transportation Safety Board investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation:

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation 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.


Deployment notices


TSB launches an investigation into an uncontrolled train movement from the MacMillan Yard in Toronto, Ontario
Read the deployment notice