Rail news release 2012

Freight train derailment near Alix Junction, Alberta, underscores importance of more stringent rail testing

Gatineau, Quebec, The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (R11C0118) into the derailment of a Canadian National Railway (CN) freight train near Alix Junction, Alberta.

A freight train travelling southward from Mirror, Alberta to Calgary, Alberta derailed seven cars on the Three Hills Subdivision, near Alix Junction, Alberta. The derailed cars were carrying containers loaded with a variety of products, some with dangerous goods. There were no injuries, approximately 900 litres of phosphoric acid were released and 470 feet of track were destroyed. The investigation found that the train derailment resulted from a sudden catastrophic failure of one of the rails, likely due to an existing undetected defect. While testing was carried out as per normal procedures and methods, these do not always detect defects, leading to the risk of rail failures and derailments.

Since the accident, the revised federal Track Safety Rules made rail flaw testing more stringent. The railway company is also working with its rail fatigue detection suppliers to improve testing protocols and procedures.


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.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca