|Ottawa Citizen 8 February 1991|
Engineers jump for their lives as trains nearly collide
By Mike Blanchfield Citizen police reporter Two engineers Jumped for their lives from a moving VIA passenger train after they spotted a freight train headed towards them on the same tracks, railroad officials say.
"They were bearing down on a heavy locomotive. Had they hit they would have been the first to feel it," Ken Truesdell, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said this morning.
He said one the engineers suffered minor injuries after he rolled in a ditch. Emergency brakes had been applied on the passenger train and the CP Rail freight train and they came to a stop without colliding.
The trains were travelling no faster than about 30 kilometres an hour, said Truesdell.
Via spokesman Dianne Graham and CP spokesman Paul Thurston said they did not know how far apart the trains were. when they eventually stopped.
Truesdell said a full investigation was to start today. He would not comment on whether an error played a role in both trains being on the track.
"All we know (now) is the VIA train had rights to that track at that time," said Thurston.
Three crew members on the CP Rail train were shunting freight cars near the Smiths Falls station to create a larger, main-line train.
While the engineers had the scare of their lives, for the 147 passengers the near miss was only a minor inconvenience, stopping the train for about three minutes, Truesdell said.
"I'm sure as far as anyone on the train is concerned, nothing happened," he said.
The train was travelling from Ottawa to Toronto on Wednesday afternoon.
The freight train backed up and switched to another track, allowing the VIA train to continue to Toronto.
It arrived 20 minutes late.