VIA Rail train was ‘going too fast’

Officials have said the VIA Rail train that derailed last Sunday in Burlington, Ontario, was ‘going more than four times the speed limit at the time of the crash’.

Investigators also said that the train’s black box indicated that the brakes weren’t applied, although they are unsure whether this was a human or mechanical error.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigator Tom Griffith said the train was ‘accelerating at the time of the crash, travelling at 108 km/h as it changed tracks’.

The speed limit for the procedure is 24 km/h.

Over 40 passengers were injured and three members of VIA Rail staff died when the train derailed.

A lawsuit has already been launched on behalf of the passengers, seeking $10 million in compensation.


  1. So, two “over-speeding” incidents within a few weeks of each other (Canada / UK). It will be interesting to see the outcome of the Bletchley RAIB investigation. Without pre-empting anything, I wonder if the signal protecting the junction at Bletchley is fitted with TPWS or not, as it may fall out of the criteria currently laid down for fitment ( ie not protection a collision). So the question could be, do we now fill another  gap in the system and provide TPWS on ALL junction signals. In other words, may be we should now use TPWS (TSS + OSS) to “check the speed” of the train routed through a junction (pseudo speed signalling) interestingly this is something that Victorian Railways (Australia) have used our very own TPWS for, as they have true speed signalling.

    In the UK, it should be noted, that it is possible to set the points for a turnout onto a 15mph crossover off the straight route (which may have a line speed of 100mph), completely unrestricted, although the aspect of the junction signal may be restricted from clearing up (red to yellow etc) until the train is calculated to have seen the route indicator set for the crossover (Network Rail signalling is route based, so emphasis is on route knowledge and action by the driver, i.e. he adjusts the train speed accordingly once he sees aspect, because he should know the route), this restriction of aspect is of no use however, if there is no way of “monitoring the trains speed” and stopping it safely before it reaches the turnout. In other words if the junction signal has no way of checking the speed of the train (OSS) or even stopping it (OSS or TSS) and the train does has not reduced speed, according to the route set, it is possible the train will still derail, if the train should pass through the junction signal at red. This new criteria for the provision of TPWS, would then be similar to fitment for permanent speed restrictions on plain line, which we now provide TPWS for. This assessment may be way off the case in this incident, but it does seem there is a hole here. 

  2. Ngiles, do you know if Canada has TPWS? much of their signalling is radio based and our similar system (RETB) has to use a ‘sniffer’ to pick up on the radio token being sent to dissarm the TPWS.  Complicated and Expensive and they may not yet have gone that route.  I’d be willing to go and work there for a few years installing it, but trying to get into their Railway is very very difficult. I’m going through residency now, but their Railways dont seem interested in 32 years UK railway experience.

    • Splitty02, interesting as I am trying also to get into the Canadian railway as a driver with 9 years experience here in the UK.
      As you going through residency, could you explain me how it’s done?


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