Another train derails near Dupont days after derailment report released
Last year, a CP Rail train derailed and spilled 3,000 litres of fuel in an area pegged by developers as the city’s next big condo corridor
Two cars from a Canadian Pacific Railway ( CP Rail) train were derailed at the corner of Dupont Street and Howland Avenue on Aug. 24, 2017 –– almost a year after a train derailment at nearly that exact spot resulted in two CP Rail trains colliding and spilling fuel around the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, the City of Toronto and developers are embroiled in a dispute over how to develop the land around the tracks.
There are currently eight proposed applications for residential development that nearly encompass the area, according to a risk assessment and management study by Hatch Mott MacDonald.
“The [local residents] want the city to be taking measures or putting measures in place that will respond to safety concerns of the potential for a train derailment on this stretch of the CP line,” said Barry Brooks, senior planner, City of Toronto, Community Planning Division.
Although there were no reports issued on the latest train derailment at press time, residents of the Annex have a better understanding of what happened in August 2016.
A report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, released on Aug. 1, 2017, labelled the 2016 incident as a “human error.” It acknowledges sleep deprivation for the engineer and conductor as well as the conductor’s unfamiliarity with the track. It also addresses the need to update technology to ensure stop signals are followed.
According to the report, a CP Rail train transporting diesel fuel left the Scarborough yard at 5 a.m. The crew consisted of a locomotive engineer and a conductor.
The engineer only had a few hours of sleep the night before, and the conductor had been sleeping in his car for the past few days while looking for accommodations in Toronto. Concerns were also raised about whether the conductor was familiar enough with the neighbourhood’s track, given his irregular employment history with CP Rail.
Everything seemed to be going relatively smoothly until they received a call warning them of a potential trespasser on the tracks near Howland Avenue. They continued maintaining speed while keeping an eye out for that trespasser. Approximately 15 minutes from departure, while travelling around 46 miles per hour on a right-hand turn, they missed a warning signal to stop. This particular warning signal is known to have a short sightline of only around 860 feet.
Shortly after, the engineer of CP Rail Train 235 observed Train 118 heading eastbound, coming from the Leaside and Rosedale area, and spotted the subsequent stoplight they were approaching. The engineer immediately hit the emergency brake to no avail. Train 235 clipped the tail end of train 118 on the crossover track, causing a derailment and spilling 2,500 litres of diesel fuel near Howland Avenue, just off Dupont Street.
A couple years prior to the Dupont derailment, the City of Toronto had commissioned a report titled Dupont Street Regeneration Area Study (DSRAS). The report, effective August 2014 and later incorporated into the city’s official plan, outlines taking precautionary measures when it comes to the development of Dupont Street, as well as safety measures related to the nearby train tracks. The guidelines are as follows: buildings can be no more than nine storeys in height and
“This has nothing to do with antidevelopment. It’s a question of appropriate development.”
Clockwise from left: the Aug. 2016 train derailment; Barry Brooks; an artistic rendering of the Bianca Condos by Tridel