Insight on a mysterious CP Rail incident

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The Canadian Pacific Railway 119 Montreal-Edmonton intermodal freight train on July 7, 2022. Photo by Craig Stevenson.

An incident or not an incident? That was the question being asked by many residents in the area of the Townline Road Canadian Pacific Railway crossing, southeast of Kemptville, after a train in the area seemed to generate an unusual amount of noise and rumbling. 

The incident in question happened on the evening of September 23, when one resident posted on social media that she and her husband are accustomed to the noises of trains near their home, but that they had heard a train making far more noise than usual. 

Other social media users reported such anomalies as “a loud bang”, “shaking and screeching”, and “lots of grinding noises”. Some residents in the town of Kemptville about 3km away also reported feeling a rumble. “That was loud!” one resident wrote. 

There was certainly no train collision or derailment, despite some rumours quickly surfacing online. A spokesperson for the Canadian Pacific Railway was able to quickly confirm that “There are no reports of train incidents in the area of Townline Road or [North] Grenville” for the evening in question. True train “incidents” are relatively rare, and it’s clear that whatever happened on September 23 was not worthy of an incident report, but something must have happened if so many people heard and felt the commotion, right?

Craig Stevenson, a Kemptville rail enthusiast who has a deep knowledge of railroad operations, confirmed that he too noticed something on the Saturday night in question. “I did hear the rumbling late in the evening, shortly after hearing the train sound its horn at the crossing, and so I made half a guess that something had happened and turned on the [railway scanner] radio,” said Craig. “The train – number 119, the evening intermodal out of Montreal – had stopped after going into emergency braking for unspecified reasons. There was a bit of chit-chat between crew members as they checked out the train, and some conversation with rail traffic control as well. Whatever the cause, the train was back on its way westward in about half an hour, and so the issues couldn’t have been anything beyond something mechanical.”

Craig confirmed that the 119 Montreal-Edmonton intermodal is a daily train that runs through North Grenville almost always after dark, except on the longest days of the year when it can be seen at dusk. He also pointed out that the CP Rail spokesperson was not being misleading by declaring that there was no incident on September 23.

“I suspect that the company defines an ‘incident’ as one that is serious in nature involving injury and/or damage,” added Craig. “Stopping on account of a mechanical issue might not meet that criteria.”

Thankfully, the train got rolling again quickly, allowing cars to pass over blocked crossing areas again. Area residents can rest assured that everything continues to run smoothly on the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Winchester Subdivision. 

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