VIA Rail responds to Ontario Train Derailment: 'We Will Find Out What Went Wrong'

VIA Rail Train Crash
VIA Rail responded to the Ontario train crash that killed three crew members on Sunday, saying on Monday that "we will find out what went wrong." Reuters

VIA Rail has responded to the Ontario train crash that killed three crew members on Sunday, saying on Monday that we will find out what went wrong.

A six-car VIA Rail train derailed in Burlington, Ontario, Canada at 3:30 p.m. local time Sunday while en route from Niagra Falls to Toronto, a Monday statement by the transit company reads.

All of VIA Rail Train Number 92 cars derailed, with 75 passengers and five crew members on board. Three VIA crew members who were in the locomotive at the time of the derailment were killed in the accident, the company said, and many other people on the train were injured but did not die. Miraculously, no passengers were killed in the crash, according to VIA.

This is a truly heart-rending situation for all of us at VIA.  Our sincerest condolences go out to the family members of our employees who died in the line of duty yesterday, and our thoughts and prayers to those passengers who were injured, Marc Laliberté, VIA's president and chief executive officer, said in the Sunday statement.  Last night, we immediately began to investigate the accident in order to determine the cause or causes, and will continue until we find out what went wrong, and have put in place measures to prevent any such recurrence.  We will be offering our full collaboration to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and Transport Canada in their inquiries, and will be working in concert with local authorities and CN, the track owner. 

The three men killed on board were Patrick Robinson, 40, a new VIA employee from Cornwall, Ontario, who was on board as part of his training program; and Ken Simmonds, 56, and Peter Snarr, 52, both of whom were from Toronto and had been locomotive engineers with Canadian National Railway (CN) and VIA for more than 30 years each.

Three passengers were airlifted to a hospital after sustaining serious injuries, including a broken back, a broken leg and a heart attack, and 42 other passengers and a fourth crew member were taken to local hospitals for treatment. Nine of those 42 passengers had been released by shortly after midnight Monday.

Toronoto's The Star newspaper painted a chilling portrait of the crash: Inside Via train 92, it was chaos and terror--passengers had been thrown on top of each other, frantic screams for help were coming from all directions, and blood had splattered inside cars that had flipped on their sides as a Toronto-bound passenger train derailed Sunday afternoon.

The Star spoke with survivors of the derailment and found that the accident was a horrifying scene for those who were there: 'I just looked up and I could see people flying all over the place,' said Richard Parsley, 60, who saw the engine flip shortly before his own rail car flew onto its side, breaking two of his ribs and his shoulder blade. 'It's mind-boggling.' ... 'There was blood everywhere,' said Faisal Abid, 21, seated in the first car.

A Sunday statement issued by VIA Rail shortly after the Ontario train crash indicated that the cause of the accident is not known at this time. VIA will collaborate fully with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, which is investigating.

And according to the Associated Press: Officials recovered the data recorder Monday from a train that crashed into a building west of Toronto killing three engineers but said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the accident. Transportation Safety Board investigator Tom Griffith said investigators were still looking into the cause of the Via Rail accident.

Investigators did tell The Star Monday morning that the train was switching tracks when it derailed.

VIA trains on the Toronto-Niagra Falls and Toronto-London-Windsor routes continue for now to be detoured or replaced by bus service, VIA said in the statement, and other lines in Southwestern Ontario may also be affected, so passengers should check the status of their trains at 1-888-VIA-RAIL (888-842-7245) or at viarail.ca.

A dedicated information hotline has been set up for people who want to know more information about who was on the train at the time of the crash: 1-888-842-6141.

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