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Bad brakes cause of CN derailment?

Brunswick Mines officials still do not know the losses from a train derailment in Big River March 9.

Mines manager Jim Schnarr said Monday final figures of the losses will not be known until after the clean-up operations are conducted, which could take weeks, depending upon the availability of heavy cranes to remove the damaged railway cars.

Two locomotives pulling 28 cars carrying lead-zinc concentrate from Brunswick Mines to the smelter in Belledune derailed March 9 at the spur line six kilometres south of Bathurst.

Mr. Schnarr said four of the 28 cars never left the track and, of the remaining 24, three were upright, meaning 21 cars tipped.

Since there were 85 tons of concentrate per car, that means a total of about 1,800 tons were lost.

``We should be able to recover half of that, if not more,'' Mr. Schnarr told The Northern Light.

Meanwhile, CN public affairs spokesman Steve McIntosh in Moncton said CN's investigation into the derailment indicates brake failure, according to the preliminary report.

However, the investigation is ongoing, and the findings will not be released until a separate investigation by the Railway Transport Committee wraps up.

The RTC investigation was announced last week by the Canadian Transport Commission, under Section 226 of the Federal Railway Act.

Vernon Mann, transportation officer with the Moncton office of the RTC, has been assigned to the investigation, said Lawerence Steeves, regional director of the RTC in Moncton. The RTC is one of seven committees comprising the CTC.

Mr. Steeves told The Northern Light Mr. Mann's investigation will determine exactly what happened any why, and his findings will be made public.

The investigation will last ``as long as it takes,'' he added, noting different accidents take different amounts of time to investigate.

CN spokesman McIntosh said the CTC investigates any derailment where damages exceed $50,000, but Section 226 was invoked because the Big River derailment occurred the same day as a derailment in Thompson. N.S.

Section 226 gives RTC extra powers, such as the right to seize equipment and dispatch messages, and to call witnesses.