In 2014, CNN reported on the deadly 2013 train crash in Quebec. From derailment to explosion, the train crash went down in Canadian history as one of the deadliest. A month after the crash already took place, news agencies reported that 2,000 residents had been evacuated, 53 vehicles were totaled, 40 buildings were demolished and 47 people died.
After investigations were completed, the Transportation Safety Board found several causes behind the crash. All of them amounted to one primary issue: safety lapses. Whether trains transport human passengers or crude oil, safety checks are indispensable. In this specific train crash, authorities learned that even though a government agency required safety checks, they were not sufficiently implemented or followed.
Forbes also notes that the engineers did not follow proper protocol during testing of the locomotive’s brake systems. Regulations require that it should be possible to hold a train in place using air brakes alone. However, both hand brakes and air brakes were applied during the testing.
When a fire then began in the lead locomotive, emergency responders now believed the air brakes alone would hold the train. They were wrong. Without the help of the handbrakes, the runaway train began its seven-mile descent to Lac-Mégantic.
The catastrophe that followed is a solid reminder of what happens when workers fail to obey safety regulations. Since then, the company behind the crash, the Maine and Atlantic Railway, has filed for bankruptcy. However, the loss they faced will never amount to the loss of human life and the grief of the family and friends the deceased left behind.