Ottawa Citizen 11 October 1977|
Heat detectors could have averted crash. (with aerial photo)
Heat detectors to be installed next month might have prevented Saturday's 43-car derailment near Cornwall, Canadian Pacific officials said Monday.
A CP spokesman said a broken axle on one of the freight train's 111 boxcars was responsible for Saturday's pile-up on the Montreal-Toronto main line at Monkland.
Three hundred feet of track were 'torn up as boxcars crashed into each other and one was thrown in the air. All but 18 of the cars were empty and no one was injured.
An official at the scene who examined the axle said it apparently broke after overheating.
"The roller bearings run hot at times and they sometimes break."
"We're installing six new hot-box detectors between Montreal and Smiths Falls," said the official, who asked not to be named. The sensing devices would definitely detect an overheating axle, he said.
Last November, 22 cars of a 44-car Toronto-bound CP freight train went off the tracks in the same area. No one was injured.
Gordon Lark, CP's chief train dispatcher in Smiths Falls, said Monday that CP decided last spring to install the detectors.
"But they had to order parts from the United States, so they won't be operational until about November," he said.
The derailment, shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, left dozens of boxcars strewn on either side of the east and westbound tracks about 300 feet north of Monkland, a village of 150. It's 65 kilometres southeast of Ottawa, just above Cornwall.
CP Rail said freight cars littered across Highway 43 were cleared with bulldozers and cranes by work crews sent from Montreal and Toronto.
The highway was reopened by early afternoon.
Service was restored, but running slowly, on the eastward line early Monday morning. CP predicted the westward line would be usuable by the end of today.
Of the 43 cars involved in the pileup, three were carrying powdered milk and one contained charcoal bricquets, CP said. The rest were empty wheat boxcars.
Monkland resident Gudrun Spor-ring told a reporter she was at her front door checking the thermometer when she saw the train passing.
"All of a sudden I heard a grinding crash and one of the cars rose in the air and settled on top of the others. It looked just like a pile of matchboxes."
Another resident, Melvin Massis, was watching TV when his house started shaking.
"I looked out and I saw the front axle of the wheels on the car coming off," he recalled.
"The cars all started piling up, one on top of the other. One of them went up about 30 feet. It just seemed as if someone was lifting it up slowly."
The cost of the derailment will not be known for "a week to 10 days," said the CP spokesman.
An investigation of the accident will be conducted by safety officials from CP and the Canadian Transport Commission.