Broken wheel caused cars to fly off tracks

It was another long night for CN rail workers as they continued the large-scale cleanup of a massive freight train derailment in Burlington that halted GO and Via Rail train service yesterday.



"We’re hoping to have normal levels of service and all three tracks in operation as soon as possible," said Frank Binder, a regional manager for CN.



Last night, it was unclear whether GO train service would resume this morning.

A broken wheel on one of the trains is believed to have caused 19 cars and tankers to fly off the tracks about 1 a.m., turning the snow-covered countryside into a scrap yard.

The crash happened about 1 a.m. just east of the Aldershot GO station near the King Road rail crossing. Some cars on an eastbound freight, consisting of three locomotives and 139 rail cars, separated and sent the cars off the track.

Derailed cars lay on their sides, strewn across the train tracks like little toys. One car had lumber spilling out; another was filled with millions of plastic pellets. None of the cars contained chemicals, police said, although five tankers had at one point carried toxic material — three once carried sulphuric acid while the other two held sodium hydroxide. Three of the cars also crashed into the Kaverit Cranes & Service building 50 to 100 feet away, demolishing the back wall.

"They completely knocked out our back-end wall," said Ida Durling, a service supervisor at the crane manufacturing company.

The impact of the crash also affected one of the structural beams in the building, causing cracks in the support structure.

Catherine Kaloutsky, a Via Rail spokesperson, said thousands of travellers and dozens of trains were affected by the derailment.

The crash shut down GO, Via Rail, and CN services yesterday past Burlington, and trains to Hamilton and London were re-routed or replaced by buses.


  • In March of last year, a CN freight train derailment in Pickering disrupted Via Rail service on the Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa corridor and commuter service in the Toronto area.