Off the rails: Upper Canada Village train sidelined

Upper Canada Village Miniature train circa 2015. (The Leader/Comfort photo)

MORRISBURG – A crowd favourite at Upper Canada Village has been sidelined indefinitely after an incident July 22.

The miniature train, also known as “The Mocassin”, suffered what officials call a “minor incident” when the rear wheels of the last passenger car derailed on the train’s last trip of the day.

St. Lawrence Park’s Commission spokesperson Heather Kearney told The Leader that no guests or staff were injured.

“It appears that the issue was with the track itself, but it’s not yet clear why,” Kearney explained adding that an internal investigation is ongoing.

High temperatures may be the cause of the derailment. Eastern Ontario was under an extreme-heat advisory at the time of the incident. While uncommon, excessive heat can cause the steel rails used by railroads to expand beyond normal specifications, leading to alignment issues or “sun kinks”. Rails on amusement attractions like at Upper Canada Village have a much thinner profile than those used by conventional railroads in Canada.

“We will work with our full-service national railway contractor and our in-house staff, both of whom have extensive experience maintaining this track,” Kearney said. “Based on the findings, we will take whatever action is deemed necessary to prevent any future occurrences.”

Since 2020, the miniature train has only been operating on its shorter route, and not on the newer route over to Crysler Park Marina. The rail line was extensively rebuilt in 2009-10 and the original 1960s-era miniature train equipment replaced at that time.

Kearney was unable to offer a time line of when the attraction at UCV will reopen.

“SLPC has put health and safety at the forefront of everything it does, adopting a “safety-first” culture at all its sites,” she said. “We are committed to re-opening the train only when it is safe to do so for both guests and staff.”

Visitors to UCV who have already purchased tickets to ride on the railroad will receive full refunds for the train tickets while the attraction remains closed.

As the incident is still under investigation, there is no information of how much the damage will cost to repair. It is unknown if the Technical Standards and Safety Authority was notified of the incident. The TSSA is the regulatory authority responsible for amusement park rides such as the miniature train at Upper Canada Village.

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