News release

Damage to a crossover switch led to the August 2015 freight train derailment in Farnham Yard, Quebec

Dorval, Quebec, 13 June 2016 – In its investigation report (R15D0073) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that a hand-operated crossover switch in Farnham Yard, Quebec, had been damaged, resulting in the derailment of a Central Main & Québec Railway (CMQ) freight train. There were no injuries.

On 10 August 2015, an eastbound CMQ freight train was scheduled to depart Farnham Yard. The train's cars had been marshalled on 3 separate tracks. At about 1400 Eastern Daylight Time, a certified car inspector began his shift and was tasked with inspecting the cars destined for the train. The inspector used a pickup truck to drive from one location to the next and complete various assigned tasks.

The investigation found that while the inspector drove between locations in the yard, the bumper of the pickup truck had contacted a switch stand which resulted in tie damage and misalignment of the switch points. However, the incident was not reported and the switch was not inspected for damage. Subsequently, as the CMQ freight train departed Farnham Yard, the wheel of a freight car became lodged between the misaligned switch point and bent stock rail which caused the derailment of that car and the following 14 cars.

The investigation also found that the locomotive event recorder (LER) did not record data from the locomotive correctly. If an LER does not accurately record the required parameters of a train's operation, the accuracy and validity of any analysis conducted using that incorrect information can be compromised.

On 12 November 2015, the TSB issued a Rail Safety Information Letter to Transport Canada (TC) regarding the incorrect data recorded by the LER. TC replied that railway companies are responsible for carrying out yearly inspections and accuracy testing of LERs and the event recorder's memory module. TC indicated that its regional office verified the data extracted from the LER of the occurrence locomotive and reported that it has been fixed and was working properly.


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.

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