News & Reviews News Wire TSB statistics show rail accidents in Canada declined in 2023

TSB statistics show rail accidents in Canada declined in 2023

By Trains Staff | June 17, 2024

Fatalities, mostly involving trespassers, increased slightly

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Bar graph showing Canadian rail accidents each year since 2013
Reported Canadian rail accidents year by year, 2013 to 2023. Transportation Safety Board of Canada

GATINEAU, Quebec — Rail accidents and incidents in Canada were down in 2023, although fatalities were up slightly, according to final statistics released last week by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

The board received 1,235 reports of rail “occurrences” — 914 accidents (which involve a fatality or serious injury, or a derailment, collision, or fire that leads to damage to rolling stock or infrastructure) and 321 incidents, which involve situations such as the risk of a collision, unplanned or uncontrolled movement of rolling stock, or passing a stop signal. That total of 1,235 occurrences represented an 11% decrease from 2022; the 914 accidents represented a 9% decrease from 2022 and a 12% decrease from the 10-year average, 1,039.

The 67 fatalities during 2023 represented an increase from 65 in 2022 but was just under the 10-year average of 68. That included 53 fatalities involving trespassers, up from 51 in 2022 and the 10-year average of 41; 13 grade-crossing fatalities, compared to 14 in 2022 and a 10-year average of 20. Some 87 of the accidents involved dangerous goods, down from 110 in 2022 and the 10-year average of 120. Six accidents resulted in the release of dangerous goods.

These figure came in a year when main-track activity increased by 4% from 2022, and the main-track accident rate was 2.5 per million main-track riles, compared to 3.0 in 2022 and a 10-year average of 2.6.

The chart below shows that the largest percentage of rail accidents were non-main-track derailments.

A breakdown of Canadian rail accidents by type in 2023. TSB

Of the 16% of rail accidents involving grade crossings, just over half involve public grade crossings with crossing signals, as shown below.

Pie chart of grade crossing accidents in Canada by the type of crossing (public with crossing signals, public passive, private, and farm)
Grade crossing accidents classified by the type of crossing. TSB

More complete information — including full definitions of occurrences, accidents, and incidents — is available here. An overview of accident information for all modes of transportation is available here.

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