By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - A Canadian National Railway employee was killed in a train accident near the small northeastern town of Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada's largest railroad confirmed on Tuesday.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada, which has an investigator traveling to the accident site, said the CN crew member was killed during switching. Switching typically involves moving a section of a rail into a different position so that a train can move onto a different track.
The accident occurred some 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the provincial capital of Regina. It follows a recent string of CN derailments and spills this year, none of which involved fatalities.
"At approximately 6:30 p.m. (local time), last evening on Nov. 18, a CN employee was fatally injured in the performance of his duties," said CN spokesman Warren Chandler, who could not provide any further details, saying the accident was under investigation.
Rail safety has come under heavy scrutiny in Canada following the disastrous accident this summer when a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in the heart of Lac Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.
Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau reiterated CN's safety record on Tuesday, which he said has improved some 40 percent in the last 10 years and now stands at 1.85 accidents for every million train miles.
"We're as safe as CP (Canadian Pacific Railway ), and a bit safer than the four American railroads, which are extremely safe in their own record," Mongeau said in answer to an analyst's question on rail safety at the Scotiabank Transportation and Aerospace Conference in Toronto.
"But it's not enough. Every accident is one too many."
A month ago, a CN train carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas derailed and caught fire just outside the tiny settlement of Gainford, Alberta. There were no injuries, though residents evacuated as a precaution.