Return to the Lounge Car






Office of the Trainmaster at Campbellton, N.B. on March 14, 1987.
Employee statement in connection with derailment of Work Extra 9548,
Mileage 0.4, Nepisiguit Subdivision on 9 March 1987.

Conducted by: F.L. Smollett - Trainmaster

Assisted by: B. Levesque - Asst. Superintendent

Also present: G.M. Prentice - Master Mechanic and G.F. Love - Local Chairman B. of L. E.

Statement of: W.H. MacDonald - Locomotive Engineer

Q. 1. Do you wish to have this investigation conducted in the English or the French language?

A. English.

Q. 2. Please give your full name, age, P.I.N. number, date entered service and in what capacity?

A. Wesley Herbert MacDonald, age 59, PIN 521272, entered the service (classified laboure) 19 May 1945, date as fireman 4 February 1951 and classed locomotive engineer 1 Jan. 1968.

Q. 3. Were you Locomotive Engineer on Work Extra 9548 on 9 March 1987?

A. Yes.

Q. 4. Do you desire an accredited representative of the B. of L. E. To appear with you and if so, state his name and if present?

A. Yes, George Love, Local Chairman, here present.

Q. 5. When did you last qualify in U.C.O.R. (or other qualification) and when are you due for re-examination?

A. 11 September 1985 due 19 October 1987.

Q. 6. When did you last qualify in V.C.S. & H. and when are you due for re-examination?

A. 11 February 1987 and 11 February 1989.

Q. 7. When was your watch last cleaned and examined?

A. Accutron - last inspected 21 November 1986.

Q. 8. Are you required to wear glasses, and if so, were you wearing them?

A. Reading purposes only.

Q. 9. How long had you been on duty prior to the above occurrence and what rest did you have prior to reporting for duty?

A. 3 hours 30 minutes on duty with 48 hours rest prior.

Q. 10. Are you fully familiar with the territory involved, work requirements, etc.?

A. Yes.

Q. 11. Did you have a copy of the Operating Rules, current time table, special instructions and Form 696 with you?

A. Yes.

Q. 12. Do you acknowledge having been allowed to real all evidence submitted to this investigation?

A. Yes.

Q. 13. Please relate what you know of the above.

A. On the date in question I was ordered as locomotive engineer on Work Extra 9548 from Bathurst for 0530. I reported for duty at 0500 and after reporting for duty read and signed bulletins in bulletin book and picked up the train register check from conductor and compared railway grade watches with conductor an standard clock. I then proceeded to shop track with trainmen to pick up units and caboose. I ensured that proper brake test was made on units prior to leaving. Diesel units and caboose proceeded from shop track to main line and then to station at Bathurst. At station test of train brakes was made and brakes were found to be operating properly. A test was also made of radios and one was found to have a defective mike which was replaced. I then received copy of MBS clearance along with bulletins from conductor permitting us to operate on the Nepisiguit Subdivision. Train departed from Bathurst at 0627 with 0 loads, 30 equated tons and proceeded to Brunswick Mines via the Nepisiguit Subdivision without incident.

On arrival at Brunswick Mines stop was made prior to entry onto their property to secure permission from security of that company by telephone as per Item 2.2 in the Nepisiguit Subdivision Footnotes on page 113 of Timetable No. 90. After permission was received train entered Brunswick Mines' property to perform necessary switching and the make up of our train.. Our first move was to drop the van on the main track which was then moved into tract B-221 by loader from Brunswick Mines. We then moved into track B-226 to pick up loads from that track. We then reversed an proceeded into track B-225 to pick up loads there. We then reversed and proceeded into track B-224 to pick up the remainder. Reverse movement was then made and we were to back clear of switch leading into track B-221 to pick up caboose. As I was moving backwards at approximately 2 to 3 m.p.h. Trainman Court contacted me on the radio and said that there 23 cars in the movement and that the air was not coupled. Also next to diesel unit was an empty covered hopper restricting my view of the movement. As movement proceeded back to approximately 20 car lengths from the switch, I had a full service application of independent brake and movement instead of decreasing speed increased and I knew then that I had lost control of it. I then applied emergency brake and they did not restrict the speed. I did not find out how many cars I had on until after the derailment. Speed increased substantially until just prior to derailment it was registering 70 - 72 m.p.h. As I made the emergency brake application I initiated an emergency call on channel 1. I then turned to channel 2 and called train dispatcher - Moncton to advise him of the situation and for him to initiate further emergency procedures. At the time I toned in the train dispatcher, Trainman Court was also calling the dispatcher. I then tried to apply hand brakes by leaving engine cab and going to the first car and climbing up on the first car to attempt to proceed back to opposite end where hand brake was located, but due to the wind velocity and no hand rail on the car, I was unable. I then proceeded back to cab of unit. I kept in constant with dispatcher advising him of the situation and also sounded engine whistle frequently to warn people on or about the track that movement was out of control. I was worried about train No. 14 which was in the vicinity at the time but was later assured it was by Nepisiguit Jct. Train dispatcher had attempted to have section forces open switch at Nepisiguit Jct. and I advised them to ensure that they stayed clear. I then sat on the floor of the cab to protect myself and movement derailed.

Q. 14. Were there any injuries as a result of this derailment?

A. Seat of locomotive hit me on the head and dazed me for a second. I was sent to the hospital for observation and then released.

Q. 15. How many cars do you usually switch at Brunswick Mines?

A. It varies from day to day depending on the pick up which could be from 10 to 40.

Q. 16. This would mean that while switching at Brunswick Mines movement would proceed out beyond derail and encounter descending grade which starts at approximately Mileage 14.7, Nepisiguit Subdivision?

A. Yes.

Q. 17. When making reverse movement beyond derail is air normally applied to the cars?

A. Air is applied to cars when we have a solid block but not when cars are to be switched out air is not applied.

Q. 18. Do you not feel that if air had been applied to cars in question that along with diesel units they would not have run away?

A. I realize that now but at the time, I did not.

Q. 19. Do you now realize that switching without air coupled at Brunswick Mines and having to haul out past the derail unto a 1.19% descending grade was an unsafe practice?

A. Yes, I now realize that it was an unsafe switching practice and will ensure that air will be coupled in future.

Q. 20. Do you now realize that switching without air coupled at Brunswick Mines and having to haul out unto a descending grade was a violation of U.C.O.R. General Notice, paragraph 1, which reads: "Safety is the first importance in the discharge of duty."?

A. At the time I did not realize it but now realize if the air had been coupled this accident would have been avoided. In future, I will ensure that air will be coupled and will adhere strictly to General Notice, paragraph 1.

Q. 21. Do you realize that as a locomotive engineer you are equally responsible for the supervision of the safe operation of your train or movement?

A. At the time I felt that the operation was safe but I now realize that it was not.

Q. 22. Do you realize that this was a violation of U.C.O.R. Rule 106, paragraph 2? (Rule read aloud.)

A. Yes, I now realize this. At the time I definitely felt that we were operating safely. If I had thought for one moment that we were not operating safely, movement would not have been made. In future I will ensure that this will be carried out.

Q. 23. Are you familiar with U.C.O.R. Rule 108? (Rule read aloud.)

A. Yes, at the time I had no doubt in my mid that the safe course was being taken, but now realize differently and will ensure that switching at Brunswick Mines will be completed with air coupled, to ensure full safety.

Q. 24. Are you familiar with Form 697 (Engine and Train Handling Instructions) Item 4.12 (a)? (Read aloud.)

A. Yes, I am familiar with this but at the time I was not a train.

Q. 25. Understanding this, the only component missing to be considered a train was a caboose with markers. Do you understand that the safest move that you could have been mad in this instance, would have been with the air coupled to the cars?

A. Yes, I understand that now.

Q. 26. Do you feel that you would have been able to stop movement with 23 cars as you were told rather than the 31 you actually had?

A. I feel that I would have been better able to control the movement with 23 cars than the actual 31 which I had on.

Q. 27. Mr. Love, do you have any questions to ask Mr. MacDonald through me?

A. No.

Q. 28. Mr. Prentice, do you have any questions to ask Mr. MacDonald through me?

A. Yes.

Q. 29. Your answer to Question No. 15 you stated that you switched with 10 cars to 40 cars, what type of units were you pushing with?

A. MR18's units.

Q. 30. If you had known that you had 31 cars on instead of 23 as you were told, would you have made the reverse movement without the air with the type of unit you were switching with?

A. No, I would not.

Q. 31. Mr. MacDonald, are you satisfied with the manner in which this investigation has been conducted?

A. Yes

Q. 32. Do you have anything further to add at this time?

A. No.

(Document signed by Locomotive Engineer and Witness)