Thursday, March 27, 2014

Study: Derailment Risk Low at Vancouver USA Rail Entrance

By Mark Edward Nero

There’s a very low potential for derailment of trains as they enter the Port of Vancouver USA, an extensive analysis of the port’s rail infrastructure by rail safety organization has determined.

The study, commissioned by the port and completed by TÜV Rheinland Rail Sciences, evaluated the derailment risk on about 3,000 feet of rail track exiting the BNSF Railway mainline and entering the port.

The section of the port’s West Vancouver Freight Access project is part of a new rail entrance to the port that, when complete in 2015, is expected to reduce congestion on the regional rail system by as much as 40 percent. The track, with about half its length running parallel to the BNSF Railway mainline, also flanks the waterfront redevelopment project proposed by a local developer.

The study’s purpose was two-fold. First, the port wanted a neutral, third-party safety evaluation of track that will serve as a significant portion of the port’s main rail entrance beginning in 2015. Second, the port asked TÜV Rheinland to offer recommendations on additional steps that could be taken to make that section of track even safer.

In a March 25 oral report of the port’s commission, TÜV Rheinland Rail Services Chief Operating Officer Sebastian Oertel summarized their findings related to the port’s rail project as “above and beyond what we see in the industry.”

The firm ran multiple simulations using the tracks’ geometry data, operating speeds and train data for three different types of trains: a grain train, an oil train and a potash train. Based on in-train force and vehicle dynamics analyses, the study found that the “proposed operation and track configuration is well within industry safety standards” with “a low risk of derailment.”

The TÜV Rheinland Rail Services study is available at

Plans are also underway to conduct a similar assessment of the remainder of the port’s West Vancouver Freight Access project.