CN Oil Train Catches Fire, Snarls Traffic in Derailment

A Canadian National Railway Co. train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire in a remote area of northern Ontario, blocking rail traffic between Toronto and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Canadian National said on its website and in a later statement that the train derailed around 2:45 a.m. Saturday near Gogama, about 600 kilometers (373 miles) north of Toronto. The train’s crew reported a fire though no injuries, spokeswoman Emily Hamer said in an e-mail. The company hasn’t yet determined the exact number of cars that derailed or how many are involved in the fire.

“CN crews are responding to the site in order to undertake the necessary repairs,” the Montreal-based company said on its website. “Both westbound and eastbound traffic scheduled to cross the affected area is currently obstructed, and may be delayed by 24 hours or more.”

The company said in the statement that a bridge over a waterway was damaged in the derailment and five tank cars ended up in the water, some of them on fire. The cars, carrying crude oil from Alberta, are CPC-1232 models that began to be introduced in the industry in 2011 to increase safety. Emergency responders have deployed two lines of boom in the water to contain the oil.

CN also dispatched Chief Operating Officer Jim Vena to the site. In the statement, he issued an apology to residents of the area for disruptions caused by the crash.

Via Rail Canada said in a statement that because of the CN derailment, it canceled its Saturday night passenger train from Toronto to Vancouver and would terminate an eastbound train on the same route when it reaches Winnipeg.

Second Accident

The accident marks the second derailment of a Canadian National oil train in three weeks in northern Ontario. A train with 100 cars, all carrying crude from the oil-producing region of Alberta to eastern Canada, derailed on Feb. 14 about 30 miles north of Gogama. A total of 29 cars were involved in that incident and seven caught fire, a spokesman said at the time.

About 18 freight trains a day use the line, which links western and eastern Canada. Canadian oil producers have grown dependent on shipping crude by rail as pipeline capacity has become constrained.

Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada have been sent to the site, which is 37 kilometers from the previous accident, the government agency said in a statement. The train was headed to Levis, Quebec, and 30 to 40 rail cars derailed, agency spokesman John Cottreau said by phone.

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