Report cites “multitude of factors” for Lac-Megantic train derailment

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (“TSB”) released an investigation report on August 19 on the Lac-Megantic, Quebec train derailment that resulted in fires and explosions, destroyed much of the town and left 47 people dead. Citing 18 factors that contributed to the incident, TSB is now calling for additional safety measures to prevent runaway trains and more thorough audits of rail companies’ safety management systems.

The report cited Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (“MMA”), the company operating the runaway the Lac-Megantic train, for having a weak safety culture without built-in systems to manage risks. In addition, the report found poor training, employee monitoring, and maintenance practices at MMA; issues with industry guidelines for securing unattended trains; and problems with tank cars used to carry crude oil. Investigators also learned that Canadian transportation authorities did not audit MMA often or thoroughly to address MMA’s safety gaps.

In response to the accident and the report, the Canadian government is passing new safety standards for tank cars carrying crude oil, requiring those that do not meet the new standards to be phased out by 2017. The report provided additional recommendations for the government to ensure that unattended trains are always secured, especially when passing through heavily populated areas.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group and Kathleen McNearney ( or 713.651.5698).