A CN train derailed just south of Suicide Hill last Thursday (Jan. 3), blocking both lanes of Highway 99 between Whistler and Pemberton for two hours but causing no injuries.
Local RCMP received a call around 2 p.m. from a witness who saw the derailment. Three empty rail cars came off the tracks, with one toppling from an overpass onto Highway 99, blocking both the north and southbound lanes.
A single lane was opened to alternating traffic around 4 p.m Thursday and remained that way until both lanes were opened around 8:30 p.m on Friday (Jan. 4) following the removal of the fallen railcar, according to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Rail traffic resumed in the area at 11 p.m. local time on Jan. 3 following track and infrastructure inspection by CN. The rail cars that derailed were removed from the site of the incident and traffic did open in both directions on Friday,” said Emily Hamer, CN’s regional manager for public and government affairs.
CN also completed minor repairs to the bridge over Highway 99 before rail traffic resumed. Vehicle traffic at the overpass was again limited to one lane on Monday (Jan. 7) during the day as crews worked further at the site.
Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair said no injuries were reported although one vehicle sustained minor damage caused by debris. Unconfirmed reports from the scene indicated that the damaged vehicle contained a man and his adult daughter, who had to quickly reverse in order to avoid the car falling to the roadway.
“The incident continues to be under investigation,” said Hamer. She would not speculate as to when results from the investigation would be available. CN officials contacted The Question on Friday (Jan. 4) searching for any photos of the accident to assist with the investigation.
Transportation Safety Board (TSB) officials attended the scene last week but determined there was no need to conduct a full investigation.
“We took a look around and found some mechanical issues that the railway was aware of,” said TSB spokesperson Chris Krepski. “There were no injuries or any dangerous goods released, so basically it’s something that the railway will be able to handle.”
The incident was the second major CN Rail mishap in the Sea to Sky Corridor in the past two months. On Nov. 8, a broken segment of CN track punctured the fuel tank of a CN locomotive that was en route to Squamish Terminals, spilling approximately 5,000 litres of diesel fuel onto the tracks and into the Squamish Estuary. Results of the investigation into the cause of that mishap have not been announced.