Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/1/2019 (587 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — Two CN Rail trains derailed Thursday morning near Portage la Prairie, leaking fuel near the Assiniboine River. Both locomotives fell off the tracks in opposite directions, but no one was reported injured.
Local resident Tim Arendse heard the derailment around 9:15 a.m., at his farm office in Curtis, part of the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie.
"I was having coffee at the office and heard an unusual kind of bang, like a metal rail-scraping sound," Arendse said.
He figured the noise was caused by construction nearby, where CN recent built a structure for trains to pass through, likely to scan them.
"We just didn’t think much. But then the Winnipeg Free Press called and said a train had derailed, so we then went started looking around and noticed the train had been sitting on the rail road bridge for a couple of hours," said Arendse.
He went towards the Assiniboine River, and saw cars sitting in a ditch across the river, on the west side.
Portage fire officials confirmed they received a call about a derailment at 9:32 a.m.
Photos from the scene show two trains that appear to have been travelling toward each other before splitting off the track, with each locomotive sitting in a ditch on an angle. It is unclear whether the two trains made contact.
CN said it couldn't yet say whether the trains collided.
"Fuel from the locomotive fuel tanks has been contained after initially leaking," wrote CN spokesman Jonathan Abecassis. "CN is investigating the cause of the incident."
A source with knowledge of rail operations said the bridge over the Assiniboine only allows one line of tracks, forcing the two parallel tracks on either side of the bridge to merge. CN would not confirm these details; Arendse said he's only ever seen a single train cross the bridge at any given point.
Manitoba Sustainable Development said the leak occurred "at least 200 metres from the river." CN is now in charge of both clean up and an investigation into the cause.
"The derailed/damaged cars are empty, but one of the locomotives has leaked some diesel fuel. This fuel is contained on frozen ground in the ditch by the rail line," wrote a provincial spokesman who would not be named.
Portage la Prairie RCMP officers blocked off traffic and made sure crew members were accounted for, and not injured.
"There were no injuries. CN police have assumed responsibility for the investigation," according to RCMP spokeswoman Tara Seel. "The RCMP will continue to assist as required."
CN said the trains were carrying mixed freight, but would not say whether they were carrying oil or other dangerous materials. Two locomotives and eight cars derailed. It appears almost as many cars remained on the line.
The Transportation Safety Board said Thursday it had deployed staff to the scene.
According to social media reports, Via Rail passengers en route to Winnipeg were being transported the last leg by bus to bypass the derailment.
Parliamentary bureau chief
In Ottawa, Dylan enjoys snooping through freedom-of-information requests and asking politicians: "What about Manitoba?"
Updated on Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 5:07 PM CST: full write-thru
7:38 PM: Adds photo
9:00 PM: Adds more recent photos.
The Winnipeg Free Press invites you to share your opinion on this story in a letter to the editor. A selection of letters to the editor are published daily.
Letters must include the writer’s full name, address, and a daytime phone number. Letters are edited for length and clarity.