Improper set up of brake on train ride

During a periodic assessment of an amusement train ride, a safety officer found that the mechanical brake on the train’s engine was not set up correctly. As air brakes are not fail-safe brakes, the mechanical brake acts as a back up to air brakes that are located on the wheels of engines and passenger cars.

Air brakes are applied by air and if there is a loss of air pressure, the braking force would be gone. The mechanical brake is applied manually by the train’s engineer in the event of an air brake failure or when the train is parked for loading and unloading.  The mechanical brake needs to be checked daily to ensure it is set up correctly and will prevent the train from moving.

Currently, there are seven amusement devices in BC classified as train rides that use both the air brake and the manual brake.  These devices are smaller than a regular train but larger than a “kiddie ride” type train.  These train rides are located at zoos, wildlife parks, farms, and public parks, varying in length with the longest being over 4 km long.  The track gauge is usually 20” – 24” whereas a regular train has a track gauge of 4’ 8.5.”

As part of this “as found” follow up, the safety officer determined that the mechanical brake check was not part of the pre-operational checklist and the operators were unclear as to how the brake should be tested.

The owner was instructed to update their operator training and pre-inspection checklist to ensure that the mechanical brake is being checked prior to operation to ensure it is functioning correctly.

This case shows the importance of good operator training, reviewing manufacturers’ manuals to ensure all required checks are being done correctly, and documentation reflecting what checks are required.

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