Railway Investigation R16E0102


The occurrence

On 29 October 2016, a Canadian National Railway (CN) train proceeding north on the Grande Cache Subdivision experienced an undesired emergency brake application at Mile 96.38, approximately 40 km northeast of Grande Cache, Alberta. Subsequent inspection revealed that one locomotive and 27 cars loaded with frac sand derailed. No injuries or releases of dangerous goods were reported.

Map of the area


Photo of George Fowler

George Fowler is the Track & Infrastructure Engineer for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. Located in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Mr. Fowler provides railroad engineering accident investigation expertise for the TSB across Canada, through evaluation and analysis of track, structures and signal infrastructure performance.

Mr. Fowler joined the TSB in 2002 after a 30 year career with Canadian National Railroad where he held various engineering positions in planning, inspection, production, construction and maintenance. With the TSB, he has been investigator in charge of a number of major accidents involving track infrastructure failure, wheel/rail interaction, track/train dynamics and human performance. He is responsible for defining and validating both engineering and operational safety issues and deficiencies.

Mr. Fowler is a professional engineer with a BSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta and is a member of AREMA.


Link to the TSB Flickr page

See more high resolution pictures on the TSB Flickr page.

Transportation Safety Board investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation:

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.


Deployment notices


TSB deploys a team of investigators to a derailment near Grande Cache, Alberta
Read the deployment notice