Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1984, June 21 - VIA #44 with unit 6901and four coaches hit an open switch south of Moodie Drive, diverting the train into Kott Lumber siding.
The locomotive hit a carload of lumber. 27 passengers injured.






Ottawa Citizen, June 22, 1984


With picture.
Sabotage suspected in train derailment.
Police are looking at sabotage as a possible cause of a train derailment in Nepean Thursday night that sent 27 passengers to hospital with minor injuries.
The LRC "super train" on the evening run from Toronto to Ottawa was sidetracked on to a dead-end spur line in a Nepean lumber yard as it slowed on its approach to Ottawa.
Investigators are trying to determine how a padlocked railway switch was opened Thursday evening, diverting the VIA Rail train on to the side track.
Police said today that someone with access to a CN railway switching key apparently opened the switch on the spur line leading into the Kott Lumber yard sometime Thursday evening. There was no signs that the padlock had been forced.
The train's engineer spotted the open switch and immediately put on his brakes but the four-car train went on to the spur line and ploughed into three flat-bed cars.
Police said if the flat bed cars, including one loaded with lumber, had not been there the LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) locomotive and some of the four passenger cars would have landed in the Jock River.
The last train passing over the closed switch went through safely at 4.50 p.m. The accident occurred at 10.45 p.m.
CN official Bruno Leroux said it's possible that someone without CN authorization may have gotten the keys. Only CN trainmen and section foremen have access to the keys.
Leroux said cleanup operations will take the rest of day.
The front of the locomotive was embedded in the flat cars. None of the passenger cars turned over but some were partially off tracks.
Canadian Transport Commission investigators and police are trying to find out how the padlocked switch was opened, putting the LRC train on to the siding.
There were about 85 passengrs on the train. Twenty-seven were taken to three hospitals for treatment of cuts and bruises and were released.
A modified version of the region's year-old hospital disaster plan was put into action for the first time.
A first-of-its-kind instrument installed last October that connects all the region's hospitals on a special radio frequency was switched on at the regional ambulance dispatch centre.
"It really helped us tremendously," said Gerry Savoie, assistant executive-director at Queensway-Carleton Hospital and head of the hospitals' disaster plan for the last three years.
"We had at least 20 minutes' notice before any patients arrived."
Seventeen injured passengers were treated at Queensway-Carleton. Savoie said because the hospital had warning and the accident happened just as shifts changed, extra staff were kept on, allowing the hospital to accommodate the extra patients smoothly.
The new radio system also allowed all the other hospitals in the region to keep up-to-date with how the situation was being handled and to communicate with Queensway-Carleton.
Savoie said he was very pleased with how the plan worked and said it shows regional hospitals are prepared to handle a larger disaster.
Only one person, thought to be a woman in her 50s, had to be taken off the train on a stretcher. She apparently suffered back injuries.
About 60 uninjured passengers were taken to Ihe CN station by four OC Transpo buses.
Spokesmen for the CTC, CN and Via Rail said that neither reconstruction work on the rait line nor the locomotive that ran the five-unk train were factors in the derailment.
CNR officials on the scene refused to answer reporters' questions.
"When we're allowed to release any information, we'll give it to you and nothing more," said one of the officials, who refused to identify himself.
The official threatened to have Nepean police throw reporters off the Kott Lumber Company property.
But one of the passengers, Ed Kulbida of Saskatoon, a trainman, said he had heard that a switch to a sidetrack was locked open, directing the train onto the spur line.
Kulbida estimated the speed of the train at about 70 km/h.
Nepean firemen were on the scene, but Fire Chief Keith Davidson said there was no danger of fire.
The engine, which came to a halt about 10 metres from a building on the Kott lot, was dented at the front when it struck a lone boxcar filled with lumber. The lumber was strewn about the yard.
Passenger Kay Wiscn of Halifax, who suffered cuts to her legs, said there was no warning.
"I just went on the floor. There was a grinding noise and that was all."
Afterward, she noticed many passengers lying on the floor nursing minor cuts and bruises.
"There was no advance warning," said John Tilton, of Mississauga.
"All I know is that I was thrown across the aisle and I ended up on the floor with a cut eye and a cut chin."
Jennifer Barrett, 24, was travelling to Ottawa for a job interview. She was sleeping when the accident occurred.
"All of a sudden I felt the train shaking, and then it was over and my car was on a slant," she said.
"I was a little nervous at first, but then everything seemed to be under control."
Steward Ahmed Mokrane was standing in the aisle collecting dishes and cleaning up in preparation for the train's arrival in Ottawa.
"I jumped in between two seats when the train started to shake and then there was a loud boom and the lights went out," he said.
Second Story.
Train wreck could have been avoided
A saboteur and a $1,000 switch protected by a $20 padlock are at the root of Thursday night's $2-million train wreck in Nepean.
Someone unlocked the switch, without damaging the lock, then locked it again after shifting it to steer the train onto a dead-end siding.
The switch has a signal a round piece of reflecting red metal that turns to face oncoming trains when the switch is moved but it wasn't visible until the train was too close for the engineer to stop it before entering the siding. A Canadian Transport Commission investigator said Friday an electronic warning system used on more heavily-travelled tracks would have given the engineer ample warning.
But the track on which the VIA train from Toronto to Ottawa derailed, sending 27 people to hospital with minor injuries, is not used enough to warrant the multi-million dollar investment in such signals, said investigator Alex Kocsis.
The Toronto-Ottawa   line  only has the electronic system between Nepean's eastern edge and Ottawa station that stretch is part of CN's centralized traffic control, which uses a computer and dispatcher to direct switching from the station.
CN dispatcher Mike Mongeon, said with the computerized system, any change to a switch would show up in the central dispatch and he could radio a warning to the train.
Light signals on the track would also automatically flash red, warning the train engineer, Mongeon said.
The last train passing over the switch involved in the accident went through safely at 4:50 p.m. The accident occurred at 10:45.
Switching onto industrial spurs on the Ottawa-Toronto line west of Ottawa is done manually by a crew member. The manual switches simply push a piece of rail one way or another to steer the wheels of trains passing through.
Kocsis said the train driver saw the red reflector attached to the switch, indicating the track was directed onto the industrial spur, but by then it was too late to stop.
Red means the switch is not tied to the main line. But a train as not like a car. With the steel wheeels going on the steel track at 80 km/h it takes at least a quarter of a mile to stop. And he just didn't have a quarter of a mile."
There are only six passenger trains a day on the track where the accident occurred and it wasn't economically feasible for the railroads to install the system. There are 52 trains daily using the Montreal-Toronto line, he said.
It comes down to economics. It costs money to install and money to maintain an electronic switching system, Kocsis said.  Canadian National spokesman Rene Chappaz said Friday the padlock was placed back on the switch in a way contrary to CN operating procedures. "It does not appear that that the switch was opened through an error by a CN employee."  CN official Bruno Leroux said it's possible that someone without CN authorization has the keys. Only CN trainmen and section foremen are supposed to have them.
Nepean police Insp. Wayne Phillips said Friday: "It is obvious that somebody tampered with a switching device that diverted the train onto a spur line. We have some leads and we are following them."
Phillips said someone got at the switch controls either by having the key necessary to open a padlock or by opening it through some other means.  Travelling about 80 km/h, the normal speed for trains passing through the switch, the train tore up more than 60 metres of track. The new Light, Rapid, Comfortable locomotive and four passenger cars plowed into three flatbed freight cars in the Kott Lumber Company yard on Moodie Drive. The freight cars stopped the train before it landed in the Jock River.
The force of the impact crumpled the front end of the $2 million locomotive and heavily damaged the wheels and underbody of it and some of the cars. The passenger cars were extensively damaged inside, too. The CTC and police investigation is expected to take more than ia month.
The switch at the Kott spur line had last been opened Wednesday morning, when the freight cars were delivered, officials said. It must have been closed again, though, because nuimerous trains passed through since.
The CN line was expected to be reopened this morning. CN trains used CPR lines Friday. There were about 85 passengers on the train.

Ottawa Citizen 23 June 1984

Train wreck could have been avoided
A saboteur and a $1,000 switch protected by a $20 padlock are at the root of Thursday night's $2-million train wreck in Nepean.
Someone unlocked the switch, without damaging the lock, then locked it again after shifting it to steer the train onto a dead-end siding.
The switch has a signal a round piece of reflecting red metal that turns to face oncoming trains when the switch is moved but it wasn't visible until the train was too close for the engineer to stop it before entering the siding.
A Canadian Transport Commission investigator said Friday an electronic warning system used on more heavily-travelled tracks would have given the engineer ample warning.
But the track on which the VIA train from Toronto to Ottawa derailed, sending 27 people to hospital with minor injuries, is not used enough to warrant the multi-million dollar investment in such signals, said investigator Alex Kocsis.
The Toronto-Ottawa line only has the electronic system between Nepean's eastern edge and Ottawa station. That stretch is part of CN's centralized traffic control, which uses a computer and dispatcher to direct switching from the station.
CN dispatcher Mike Mongeon said with the computerized system, any change to a switch would show up in the central dispatch and he could radio a warning to the train.
Light signals on the track would also automatically flash red, warning the train engineer, Mongeon said.
The last train passing over the switch involved in the accident went through safely at 4:50 p.m. The accident occurred at 10:45.
Switching onto industrial spurs on the Ottawa-Toronto line west of Ottawa is done manually by a crew member. The manual switches simply push a piece of rail one way or another to steer the wheels of trains passing through.
Kocsis said the train driver saw the red reflector attached to the switch, indicating the track was directed onto the industrial spur, but by then it was too late to stop.
"Red means the switch is not tied to the main line. But a train is not like a car. With the steel wheeels going on the steel track at 80 kmh it takes at least a quarter of a mile to stop. And he just didn't have a quarter of a mile."
There are only six passenger trains a day on the track where the accident occurred and it wasn't economically feasible for the railroads to install the system. There are 52 trains daily using the Montreal-Toronto line, he said.
"It come down to economics. It costs money to install and money to maintain" an electronic switching system, Kocsis said.
Canadian National spokesman Rene Chappaz said Friday the padlock was placed back on the switch in a way contrary to CN operating ptocedures.
"It does not appear that that the switch was opened through an error by a CN employee."
CN official Bruno Leroux said it's possible that someone without CN authorization has the keys. Only CN trainmen and section foremen are supposed to have them.
Nepean police Insp. Wayne Phillips said Friday: "It is obvious that somebody tampered with a switching device that diverted the train onto a spur line. We have some leads and we are following them."
Phillips said someone got at the switch controls either by having the key necessary to open a padlock or by opening it through some other means.
Travelling about 80 kmh, the normal speed for trains passing through the switch, the train tore up more than 60 metres of track.
The new Light, Rapid, Comfortable locomotive and four passenger cars plowed into three flatbed freight cars in the Kott Lumber Company yard on Moodie Drive. The freight cars stopped the train before it landed in the Jock River.
The force of the impact crumpled the front end of the $2-million locomotive and heavily damaged the wheels and underbody of it and some of the cars.
The passenger cars were extensively damaged inside, too.
The CTC and police investigation is expected to take more than a month.
The switch at the Kott spur line had last been opened Wednesday morning, when the freight cars were delivered, officials said. It must have been closed again, though, because numerous trains passed through since.
The CN line was expected to be reopened this morning. CN trains used CPR lines Friday. There were about 85 passengers on the train.

Ottawa Citizen 26 June 1984

Switch moved in Via crash widely used
By Mark Kennedy Citizen staff writer
The manual switch involved in last week's $2-million train derail-ment in Nepean is used throughout Canada, even on highspeed routes, a senior Canadian Transport Commission official said Monday.
And in the wake of the derailment, CTC officials are closely examining VIA Rail's proposal to increase the speed limit on the Ottawa-Toronto line from 80 to 150 kilometres an hour.
The train company's proposal to operate a speedy Ottawa-Toronto passenger service wouldn't be unique in its use of manual switches, said John Green, director-general of the safety and services branch of CTC's railway transport committee.
Investigators believe the VIA train jumped the tracks Thursday evening (21/6) after a switch to a spur line was deliberately opened by a saboteur and locked in place.
Green said in an interview many Canadian inter-city routes have similiar switches and operate at speeds of 150 kmh.
"It's not unusual that they're asking for this," said Green. "They're all over the country. I can think of the Calgary-Edmonton route as one example."
But Green added it's now up to the transport committee to consider the application in light of the derailment.
The increased speed would reduce the Ottawa-Toronto trip by 90 minutes to four hours. VIA has spent more than $20 million on roadbed improvements.
At issue is whether VIA should be required to extend its central traffic monitoring system beyond the Ottawa city limits and improve switch security.
If a switch operated by the central system was altered by a saboteur, a flashing light on a console would immediately warn workers at the traffic office.

Ottawa Citizen 5 July 1984

Derailment probe to take 6 weeks
TORONTO (CP) An investigation into the June 21 passenger train derailment in Nepean will likely take another six or seven weeks, a federal official said-
The train was diverted from the main line onto a side track near a lumber company after a switch was tampered with.
"When you're dealing with passenger trains, you've got to be that bit more careful to make sure that everything is done right," James Cruden, manager of accident investigations for the Railway Transport Committee, said in an interview.
The accident, the first to involve VIA Rail's new LRC (light, rapid, comfortable) trains, sent 27 people to hospital, but no one was seriously injured

Ottawa Citizen 10 July 1984

Youth ruled fit to stand trial for VIA crash
 A 17-year-old Richmond youth charged in the $2-million derailment June 21 of a VIA train has been found fit to stand trial.
A court-appointed psychiatrist testified Monday in provincial court that although Randy James Leslie Rankin suffers from emotional problems and should seek psychiatric treatment, he was capable of instructing counsel.
Dr. William Blair told Judge Robert Hutton the youth, charged Friday by Nepean police with interfering with a transportation facility, appreciates the nature of the charges against him and is capable of understanding the court proceedings.
Rankin remains in custody.
There were about 85 passengers on the four-car LRC (light, rapid, comfortable) train when it smashed into three flatbed cars on the spur line, injuring 33.

Ottawa Citizen 21 November 1984

VIA Rail rapped over failure of safety measures
A federal report on the June train accident in Nepean that injured 28 people has demanded VIA Rail answer why emergency measures failed to work, thereby "aggravating the anxieties of passengers."
Released late Tuesday, the Canadian Transport Commission report criticized the failure of emergency lighting and intercom systems during the accident in which a VIA train carrying 90 passengers ran into three flatbed cars sitting on a spur line.
The report also faulted VIA for not making emergency tools such as a hammer available to break windows for easy exit.
The commission wants to know why several seats and equipment such as microwave ovens broke loose during the collision.
A written explanation outlining design changes to the passenger cars is expected.
The report agrees with earlier conclusions that a $20 padlock was tampered with and the switch was changed to divert the LRC (light, rapid, comfortable) train to a spur line servicing Kott Lumber on Moodie Drive.
The report decided the accident was due to sabotage because the padlock was placed back on the switch upside-down, which was contrary to operating procedures for CN Rail, which owns and maintains the line.
The engineer of the four-car train spotted the open switch and put on the emergency brakes to slow the 80-kilometre-an-hour train.
A Richmond youth has been charged in connection with the $2-million accident.
Among the recommendations made was that the railway come up with a tamper-proof padlock for replacement on the switch.
However, following hearings by the Railway Transport Committee last month into an application by VIA to increase train speeds to 150 kmh along the Ottawa-Brockville line, a new type of lock has been identified and will be put in place.
The report also calls for the installation of a second lock on the switching device.
Finally, the report says all VIA, ticket envelopes should include information on the location of emergency exits, tools and provide tips on what to do in the event of a crash.
Canadian Transport Commission spokesman Peter Schnobb said the recommendations now will go before the railway committee for consideration before any changes are made mandatory.

Ottawa Citizen 6 April 1985

The 17-year old Richmond man charged in the $2-million derailment of a VIA train last June has been committed to trial.
Randy Rankin will appear in district court May 3 to set a date for trial.
Rankin was charged after a VIA train on the Ottawa-Toronto line derailed, sending 27 people to hospital with minor injuries.
He is charged with interfering with a transportation facility.

Ottawa Citizen 13 May 1986

Trial begins of Richmond man chargd with 1984 train derailment.
The trial of a Richmond man charged with causing a Nepean train derailment in which 27 peo-J pie were injured was to begin to-day after he failed to appear in district court Monday.
Judge Edward Houston had issued a bench warrant for the arrest of 19-year-old Randy James Rankin, of RR 2 in Richmond, after his failure to appear in court.Monday.
Rankin appeared today and told the court he was confused about the starting time of Monday's trial .
Rankin is charged with interfering with railway property and causing the June 21, 1984 derailment, which cost $2 million in damages.
The Ottawa-bound VIA train was diverted off the main tracks into a lumber yard shortly before 11 p.m. The four-car train, on a scheduled run from Toronto, collided with three flatbeds after it was diverted just west of Moodie Drive near the Jock River.
Investigators said the train was diverted onto a side track after a $100,000 switch protected by a $20 padlock was tampered with.
Rankin was charged with the derailment about two weeks after it occurred.


Ottawa Citizen 14 May 1986

Man derailed train after being fired.
A Kanata man diverted a speeding VIA Rail passenger train into a Nepean lumber yard in retaliation for being fired by the lumber firm, a court was told Tuesday.
The man was found guilty of causing the 1984 ;crash in which 30 people were injured. ;
Randy Leslie Rankin, 18, of Melanie Crescent, was charged with interfering with transportation. He will be sentenced June 30 for the derailment of the Ottawa-bound train. The crash is estimated to have cost $2.25 million.
Rankin told an undercover police officer shortly after the June 21 crash he tampered with a switch and diverted the train into a lumber yard, where it crashed into three flatbeds.
Nepean police Sgt. Murray Gordon, who was the only witness to testify at the non-jury trial which lasted less than two hours, told the district court Rankin was fired from Kott Lumber on Moodie Drive for stealing employees' cars,
Gordon said Rankin told an undercover police officer planted in a cell with him that he wanted to see the lumber yard "destroyed."
Rankin told the officer he and a girlfriend used a stone to break open a padlocked switch box, tampered with the device, then replaced the lock.
The girlfriend, who later confessed the act to police, was not charged. She is now in a psychiatric institution.
The action sent the train, travelling at about 80 kilometres an hour, off the main track and on a collision course with the lumber-laiden flatbeds.
Gordon testified the passenger cars would likely have crashed into the deepest section of the Jock River if the flatbeds hadn't been there.
Judge Edward Houston said Rankin acted recklessly in diverting the train and likely knew his actions could injure passengers.
Gordon said several civil actions have been started against Rankin.
Rankin opted to be tried by judge alone and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Rankin is now under psychiatric care.
A bench warrant was issued for Rankin's arrest when he failed to appear for his trial Monday. Houston said Tuesday that was a misunderstanding, adding Rankin failed to appear because he was confused about the time the trial was to start.

Ottawa Citizen 9 August 1986

Crown seeks five year term for man who derailed train
A Kanata man who intentionally derailed a speeding VIA passenger train into a lumber yard, injuring about 30 people, should spend five years in prison, a Crown prosecutor said Friday.
Curt Flanagan told a district court judge that Randy Leslie Rankin, of Melanie Crescent, should be sent to federal penitentiary as punishment for the June 1984 derailment of the Ottawa-bound passenger train.
Rankin, 19, was convicted in May of tampering with a railway switch box.
His actions sent the train, filled with unsuspecting passengers travelling from Toronto, hurtling at about 80 kilometres an hour off the main track and into a Moodie Drive lumber yard.
About 30 people were sent to hospital with injuries ranging from aches and pains to broken bones. Damage was estimated at $2.25 million.
The train collided with several lumber-laiden flatbeds. They fortunately acted as a buffer, stopping the train from plunging into a deep section of the Jock River.
Rankin flipped the switch in retaliation for being fired by the Nepean lumber firm, Knott Lumber. He was fired after being caught stealing employees' cars, evidence at his trial showed. Evidence indicated Rankin wanted to see the lumber yard "destroyed".
Flanagan described the passengers as "the most innocent victims of a criminal act."
He said Rankin knew when he flipped the switch that people could be hurt, possibly killed, but just didn't seem to care.
Defence lawyer Kenneth Hall agreed the crime was a serious one, but asked Judge Edward Houston to take into consideration his client's low intelligence, immaturity and poor upbringing.
Hall said Rankin would benefit most from one-to-one counselling, something said he his client was unlikely to get because the system is swamped with offenders in need of such assistance.
Hall urged the judge to sentence Rankin to 12 to 18 months in jail and three years on probation. Rankin pleaded not guilty to the rarely laid charge of interfering with public transportation. There are no identical cases involving such a charge reported anywhere in the country, and only one similar one dating back to 1909.
Rankin was convicted by Houston based on information from a former girlfriend who helped flip the switch, and on a confession he gave an undercover officer. The girlfriend was not charged because of psychiatric problems.
He is to be sentenced Sept. 12.

Ottawa Citizen 13 September 1986

Teenager jailed for derailment
A Kanata man convicted of causing a 1984 train crash in which 27 people were injured was jailed Friday for two years less a day by a judge who said he deserved a second chance.
District court Judge Edward Houston said he could not sentence Randy Leslie Rankin, 19, to a longer term because it would "ruin him for life, and that's not the purpose of criminal law."
Rankin, of Melanie Crescent, was convicted in May of flipping a switch that sent a VIA Rail train travelling about 80 kilometres an hour into the Kott Lumber yard in Nepean. Evidence showed Rankin wanted revenge on the firm for his firing.
The four-car LRC train, enroute to Ottawa, was sidetracked onto a dead-end spur line leading into the lumber yard and smashed into three flat-bed cars, which prevented it from ending up in the Jock River.
Some of the passenger units partially left the tracks, but none turned over.
The train's engineer had spotted the open switch but was not able to halt the train in time. Damage was estimated at $2.25 million; 27 passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Houston said Rankin, who had a poor upbringing and was a troubled youth, was entitled "to one more bite at the apple.
"I hope what I do will assist him to . . . clean up his life."
Houston said he didn't think Rankin realized when he and a young girl tampered with the railway equipment that he could do such damage, although he added it was a miracle no one was killed.
Flatbeds in the lumber yard likely stopped the train from plunging into the deepest section of the Jock River.
Houston recommended Rankin serve the jail term at an institution in Brampton where he can receive special counselling.
Houston also put Rankin on three years' probation once the jail term is completed, ordered him to get a job, upgrade his education and take any medical treatment suggested by doctors and his probation officer.
Houston's sentence satisfied defence lawyer Kenneth Hall, who had urged a jail term of between 12 and 18 months coupled with probation and counselling.

See also this piece by Eric Gagnon
https://tracksidetreasure.blogspot.com/2017/12/kott-lumber-derailment.html



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