Avalanche derails CP Rail train in Glacier National Park

An avalanche derailed a CP Rail train in Glacier National Park on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 21.

File photo: A railway crossing in Revelstoke. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo

A CP Rail train has derailed in the eastern portion of Glacier National Park after it was struck by an avalanche on the evening of Saturday, December 21.

Details are sparse; communications staff from the Transportation Safety Board and Parks Canada referred questions about the incident to CP Rail, but a CP Rail spokesperson was not immediately available for comment; the railway usually offers little information about incidents.

Transportation Safety Board (TSB) spokesperson Sophie Wistaff confirmed that CP Rail reported the incident to the transportation safety regulator at around 9 p.m. PST.

“The CP Train was proceeding westward when it was struck by an avalanche,” she said.

Wistaff said she didn’t know the location or the number of cars involved in the derailment because it was deemed unsafe to access due to avalanche risk. She said there were no dangerous goods on the train.

“There may be some cars that are not upright but they don’t contain any dangerous goods,” Wistaff said. “Until it is safe to go see, they won’t be sending people there.”

She said the TSB is waiting for more information from CP Rail before deciding if they will send investigators to the site or not. “At this point it looks like the avalanche caused the derailment, so it wouldn’t be something we are further looking into,” she said. “We are still gathering information at this point. We are still waiting on more detail.”

Parks Canada spokesperson

Parks Canada spokesperson Shelley Bird emphasized that the derailment was CP Rail’s to deal with and comment on, saying it happened on CP Rail’s right of way.

“Basically we are just supporting them, making sure the area is safe for their crews going in,” Bird said. “It’s on their right of way and it is their land and it is there incident they are dealing with. Our biggest priority is this is avalanche terrain and we need to make sure that nobody is concerned with avalanche risk.”

Update: CP Rail comment

The Mountaineer sent two emails and left one voicemail requesting a telephone interview with the CP Rail spokesperson, but CP Rail has yet to make a spokesperson available.

In a very brief emailed statement, CP Rail spokesperson Salem Woodrow said seven “intermodal platforms” derailed at 8:30 p.m. after a train was struck by an avalanche in Glacier National Park. She said there were no injuries and the line reopened in the evening of Dec. 22.

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