SASKATOON -- A flaming train derailment early this week is raising serious questions for a railway expert.

On Monday, 34 rail cars hauling crude oil derailed near Guernsey, according to CP Rail.

Mark Hemmes, who has 23 years’ experience working for a railway and is the president of Quorum Corporation, a company which monitors grain rail movement for the federal government, said he was surprised to see the fiery derailment.

“I’m always surprised when a derailment occurs and there’s a fire. That’s a very unusual situation,” Hemmes told CTV News from Edmonton.

“I think the whole thing is very tragic. It’s probably a bit of a bellwether when it comes to watching what kinds of practices were going on.”

Hemmes said he is interested to find out precisely what happened, and whether a human error was made – which is expected to be released in the Transportation Safety Board’s (TSB) investigation.

Train cars involved had ‘enhanced safety features’

The derailed train cars were a combination of CPC-1232 cars and retrofitted TC-117 cars, according to CP Rail.

The TC-117 tanker cars were introduced following the Lac-Megantic, Que. train detrainment that killed 47 people in 2013.

After the deadly crash, Transport Canada proposed all rail cars hauling flammable materials upgrade to the TC-117.

The cars are dubbed as having “enhanced safety features to protect communities along Canada’s railways,” according to an infographic on the Transport Canada website.

The TC-117 tank car advertises having valves to avoid leaks in the case of an incident, and shields on either side to avoid punctures during collisions.

Community ‘thankful’ derailment was in unpopulated area

CP is in the process of cleaning up the wreckage, removing the damaged cars.

“I’m just thankful for where it was, and not in the village of Guernsey or Lanigan. It happened in a fairly unpopulated area,” said Jack Gibney, the Reeve of the RM of Usborne.

The railway re-opened on Tuesday morning and crews will remain on scene for weeks, according to CP. 

TSB investigators are inspecting the wreckage to try and determine what happened.