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Train derails by Don River

Injuries slight among 28 on board the Northlander

Soo Kim and Marissa Nelson

Disaster was narrowly averted when an Ontario Northland passenger train derailed at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday.

No one was injured when four of the cars on the five-car train, on its way from Cochrane to Union Station, jumped the tracks about 300 metres north of Pottery Rd., east of the Bayview extension along the Don Valley Parkway.

The 23 passengers and five crew members on board were shaken, but Toronto police said only two people were injured, suffering very minor bumps and bruises.

“We saw the (Don) river flowing right beside us,” said Beth Wright, who was on her way from Huntsville to Toronto.

“We were all just happy we weren’t in the river.”

Toronto police Superintendent Ron Taverner said the accident could have been a disaster if the train had come off the rails 600 metres south, where there is a steep curve winding around the Don.

“The terrain helped cushion the cars from turning over,” he said.

There was concern that diesel fuel could leak into the river, but a 2-centimetre hole at the bottom of the tank was quickly plugged.

Ian Thompson of Canadian National Railway, which owns and operates the tracks, said a broken wheel on the locomotive was the cause of the derailment.

The accident closed the north-south Bala subdivision line.

The experience seemed to have bonded the passengers, who were bused to their destination. Former strangers hugged and joked about heading to the first bar they saw.

John Sullivan, of Kirkland Lake, was heading to Sunnybrook hospital for surgery on his arm.

“We’re northerners. We’re a hardy breed,” he said with a laugh.

The mood wasn’t as cordial at Union Station, as GO passengers trying to get to Old Cummer and Oriole stations were told they’d have to take the TTC because those stations were closed, extending some trips home by an hour.

GO train passengers can expect delays of 20 to 40 minutes this morning.