High in the mountains of southeastern B.C., the conductor of a 25,000-tonne Canadian Pacific Railway freight train pulling 2.5 kilometres of cars loaded with potash got a bad feeling.

Headed west to Revelstoke, the train had just cleared a tunnel and was starting to build momentum downhill when he turned to the engineer, the man operating the massive vehicle, and said: “You know we’re tippin’ over here?”

Terrified the train was about to slide out of control down the mountain, the conductor flipped the emergency lever — overriding the engineer’s controls — bringing the train to a screeching stop before it could barrel towards catastrophe.

CBC agreed not to identify the conductor because he fears he’d be fired for speaking out about what happened on the mountain last fall.

He said the new engineer had just been qualified after three months of training on CP’s “Mountain Subdivision” and had failed to ensure adequate air pressure in the brakes for the steep downward grade.


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