Dislodgment My Arse – TransLink Hides A Derailment!

Derailment: the action of a train or tram leaving its tracks accidentally.

When TransLink invents new terms for a train derailment, you know they are trying to hide something.

Two bolts sheared on a turnout or switch is not a coincidence, rather it points to a lack of maintenance on the system.

That TransLink is hiding the derailment as a dislodgment, is just a continuation of TransLink’s campaign of misinformation, fake news and alternative facts.

That the NDP did not compel TransLink to tell the truth, is another indication that they do not care about safety on public transit.

And where is Transport Canada?

Ontario had a public inquiry with their new transit system, due to faulty maintenance, as well as other issues, yet with the SkyTrain light-metro system, safety issues are swept under the carpet, out of sight, out of mind!


The Expo and millennium Lines use movable frog switches, which gives a good ride for cars traversing the switch. This Marx O-Gauge switch is a good illustration of a a movable frog switch.

The Expo and millennium Lines use movable frog switches, which gives a good ride for cars traversing the switch. This Marx O-Gauge switch is a good illustration of a a movable frog switch.

From the Breaker News.

Two sheared bolts caused SkyTrain derailment: FOI documents


Bob Mackin

A SkyTrain derailed near Scott Road station last May because of what TransLink has called “almost simultaneous failure of two bolts” at one of the mainline’s 124 turnout switches.

On May 30 at 7:40 p.m., two cars of a four-car Mark 11 train derailed: both trucks of the third car and the rear truck of the fourth car went off the rail, disrupting rapid transit service to and from Surrey for 24 hours.

TransLink originally downplayed the severity, calling it a “track issue” and “stalled train” before saying the train had been “partially dislodged.” No injuries were reported, though passengers stuck on the train for a half-hour needed attendants to walk them back to the station.

Email released under freedom of information indicates that the switch, which enables a train to move from one set of tracks to another, should have received a thorough annual inspection earlier in May, but received a bi-weekly inspection on the morning of May 29. A bi-weekly inspection generally involves a track-level visual and condition assessment and lubrication of movable components. A work order log shows that technicians dealt with faults at the same turnout switch, known as DC47, from early 2021 all the way to April of this year.

Guideway supervisor Nick Micelotta’s May 31 handover report said that two “K-plate bolts sheared at the head.” The switch was not movable and that a burning smell was coming from the train. Micelotta’s report said the derailment caused extensive damage.

“LIM [linear induction motor] cap was scraped for about two track sections, concrete wall was hit by collector shoe assembly that was ripped off the train, handrail right above it was hit by the train and walkway cover inserts/bolts were torn off on one side,” Micelotta wrote.

TransLink’s rail division, B.C. Rapid Transit Co., waited for Technical Safety BC’s approval for rerail and repair. Revenue service resumed after 7:47 p.m. on May 31.

“We have never had this incident or similar incident occur before,” TransLink spokesperson Tina Lovegreen said by email.

Lovegreen said the impact of trains on rail causes wear and tear and loosening of components over time.

“Immediately after this incident, we inspected all frogs [common crossings] and bolts across the system, none showed the same problem as DC47,” Lovegreen said.

A report to the Sept. 28 TransLink board meeting said the incident was a major reason why Expo and Millennium lines did not meet service delivery and on-time performance targets in the second quarter.

Operations vice-president Mike Richard said SkyTrain was 95.7% on-time, below the 96.5% target. There were 12 delays over 30 minutes, including the derailment, three switch issues, two power issues, two extended medical emergencies, two objects falling into the track, one extended trespasser in the track area and one train door problem.

TransLink has six levels of switch inspection, ranging from a daily visual inspection using a sweep train to the hands-on yearly inspection, which includes lubrication of movable components, a complete hardware condition assessment and cleaning of all components throughout the switch.

The completed inspections log for DC47 showed there had been 11 biweekly switch inspections in 2022 before the derailment, plus a hands-on quarterly in February. The work order for a May 18 annual inspection was not completed.

Three work orders in 2021 focused on problems with the fastening systems.

“Both heads on the K-plate bolts sheared off. Bolts were stuck inside the plate,” said the entry for Jan. 9, 2021.

The “K-plate bolt [was] found with its head sheared off and the bolt shank drifting out of the hole,” on July 7, 2021.

The K-plate bolt appeared to be loose during Oct. 18, 2021 work, “So I went to tightened it and it was snapped already. There is history on this frog (Siemens) for adapter plate and K-plate & bolts snapping.”

Lovegreen said the bolts used were recommended and authorized by the original equipment manufacturer and there was no indication that bolt failures were specific to Siemens machines. She also said there was no “go slow zone” in place at the time of the incident at the DC47 switch.

While the incident was called a derailment by SkyTrain managers throughout the email disclosed, TransLink’s communications department refers to the incident as a “dislodgement.” Richard repeated the same word during his Sept. 28 presentation to the TransLink board.

“Given only one part of the train was dislodged from the track, it was more appropriate to refer to the incident as a partial dislodgment,” Lovegreen said.


2 Responses to “Dislodgment My Arse – TransLink Hides A Derailment!”
  1. Haveacow says:

    I’m not overly concerned with Translink using disguised language, or that it’ s using a coded word for something that sounds more serious. This is unfortunately very common in our overly litigious society. I used to work at the CN Tower in Toronto as a university student. Instead of the word “stuck” or “jammed”, the elevators were “delayed”.

    Even, derailments are still quite common on railways world wide. Most are handled quickly and quietly because it’s quite minor, no one is hurt and if passengers are involved, many passengers don’t even realize their train has derailed. Most are minor inconveniences and usually only took a few minutes to fix. The cause is usually quite obvious, easily understood and easily fixed.

    The problem is that when you have a spectacular accident that kills people, the press usually includes in the news story about how the train derailed first, before its crashed. The picture of twisted metal cars is scary and unpleasant. So most people, including the press itself, connect potential death with the word “derailment” or the phrase, “the train derailed”. Mainly because they don’t know any better, no virtually nothing about how modern railways actually operate and how common this is actually is, especially in railway yards at relatively slow speed (yard speed, less than 20 kph), with there very frequent turnouts (switches).

    Track issues like minor derailments increase as railway infrastructure ages. Yes, crappy or just a bad component can cause issues like this. However, if this bad frog and switch motor (the motor being the most likely cause of the burning smell) was so troublesome why wasn’t there continousa “go slow order” through that section of track? If transit agencies want the public to trust them more, just being honest about the relativel number of these occurrences and that only a microscopic fraction of derailments ever cause anything close to life threatening injuries, they would see it as the semi-annoying occurrences they really are. Forcing people to get F.O.I. requests for something relatively mundane in railway operations, just adds mistrust.

    Zwei replies: If TransLink just said the train derailed to to a track failure or a switch failure, all would be forgotten, but to go on local media correcting everyone that:” this was a dislodgement and not a derailment” is something quite different. I have been told that the actions of the car coming off the track was quite violent and passengers thought the car was going to tip over. Again, the inherent safety or rail transit prevented this.

  2. Haveacow says:

    With most minor derailments a rerailer is used. You see them in stations or bolted or secured to the side of most commercial/industrial electric or diesel-electric locomotive (otherwise known as a diesel locomotive). The derailed flanges (wheels) simply are guided onto the rerailer by a slowly reversing locomotive and gravity does the rest. They are very heavy and its usually two man job, although I have done it by myself (at a railway museum).

    Yes, I derailed a small 8 man Wickham Track Inspection and Work Car at the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario, when I was on the board there. The cause of the derailment was actually excessive grass and plant life fouling the track. The vehicle ‘s wheel instantly compresses the plant life into liquid or mash, which is enough for these relatively lightweight vehicle wheels to be lifted and slide off the track. It was embarrassing but it shows how important that proper railway right of way maintenance actually is. Took less than 5 minutes to rerail and fix the situation, unfortunately 3 minutes to just restart the vehicle, which was one of many reasons this British design was rarely used in Canada and about 10 more minutes for me and another Board member to cut away all the grass and plants that had built up. The summer students didn’t understand why we would ask them to cut the grass not just at the station buildings but a long the track itself.




    Zwei replies: After having lived in the UK several times (blondes will do this), Sunday mornings the streets were alive with auto owners tinkering under the bonnet. Rows and rows of cars with their bonnets up, impressed me never to buy a British car.