Update (Friday, Mar. 27, 2020): According to CN, the latest derailment involved seven train cars. While the roadway was reopened at approximately 5 p.m. on Thursday, Mar. 26, 2020, CN expects to continue working on the railway into the weekend. The cause of the derailment is currently under investigation.
“We take these kinds of things very seriously and that track is inspected regularly by our trained track engineers,” said Jonathan Abecassis, a communications official with CN. “As the investigation is ongoing, I can’t comment further at this time.”
Crews from CN Rail remain on scene at the CN spur line rail crossing on Bath Road near Armstrong Road after three to five train cars derailed on Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020.
All the train cars have been removed from the scene, and repair work to the rail line is currently taking place. According to Kingston Police, who have been in contact with a local CN Police officer, although the train cars have been removed from the section on the roadway, crews still need to properly repair Bath Road. The time frame for it re-opening is more likely late afternoon to early evening on Thursday, Mar. 26, 2020.
The derailment is the second to take place on the spur line that crosses Bath Road this month. The first derailment took place on Wednesday, Mar. 4, 2020, and saw a number of train cars tipped, with some of the cargo spilled. In the second derailment on Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020, all cars remained upright, and appeared to have simply come off the tracks.
One nearby resident said he brought his concerns about the state of the tracks to CN Rail shortly after the first derailment.
“I was keeping track of the derailment situation a couple weeks ago, taking the time to also post video and images of the recovery process. I returned later and observed the repaired tracks while they were winding down the operation. I noticed that they had a noticeable bend, the east side lower, and the left side higher (the east side is the direction the car tipped over). I felt uneasy, and took a photo, and vowed to return later,” said Peter, who preferred his last name not be divulged. “On the 10th [of March], I returned, and saw that the rest of the rock bed was flattened, but the tracks were not straightened, and not changed in any way.”
On Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2020, after noticing this, Peter first called Invista to find out when their next train was due to arrive. With no one there available to speak with him, Peter said he then called the CN emergency line.
“They got me in touch with an engineer, who said the bends were, to paraphrase, within Transport Canada’s guidelines, and that they were safe, but that he would send someone to check in the morning,” Peter recalled.
Peter submitted the below photos, which he took on Friday, Mar. 6, 2020, the second of which has been edited to highlight the angles of the rails.
“I attest that the tracks were not fixed from these angles you see here when I returned on the 10th to check,” he said, noting he returned on Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2020, after contacting CN, and nothing had changed.
Peter, who considers himself a train enthusiast who “loves to watch trains,” and has “a keen eye for potential problems” also said he spoke to another witness to the first derailment this month who had walked the tracks and witnessed broken railway ties. Peter said he also brought that information to the attention of the CN engineer he spoke with on Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2020.
“The engineer said that they can have a certain number [of broken rail ties] within a certain distance, and still be safe,” Peter said. “Although I do not believe this to be relevant, I still believe that this spur line – and other spur lines across the country – should be kept at a higher standard; even though the speeds are low, they can be dangerous, and, in the case of Kingston, devastating to emergency service access, and the citizens as a whole.”
Kingstonist will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates if and when new information becomes available.