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Canadian railway association honors VIA Rail, CN and Quebec North Shore/Labrador

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) recently recognized a commuter railroad, Class I and short line with its 2008 Safety and Environmental Awards. Created in 2005, the awards recognize railroads and transit agencies that adopt safe and environmentally friendly operational techniques.

VIA Rail Canada Inc. received a 2008 Environment Award for its "Green Teams," a volunteer employee program that aims to promote environmental awareness among passengers and communities. The first Green Team was organized in 2001 at the Montreal Maintenance Centre to reduce waste and chemical disposal, and build recycling facilities. Since then, 10 other teams have focused on various environmental efforts, such as reducing paper consumption, planting shrubs at stations and implementing a shoe recycling program for Africa.

Canadian National Railway Co.'s dangerous goods team won RAC's 2008 Safety Award for improving contact and communications with emergency responders in the field. The Class I launched the program in British Columbia two years ago when the Port of Prince Rupert was being expanded to handle import/export container traffic. Nearby communities believed CN's emergency response presence needed to be expanded and local emergency responders lacked sufficient training and equipment to handle a derailment. So, CN partnered with Channel Solutions and Quantum Environment to conduct a two-day, online training program for responders though six hub sites in British Columbia. The railroad offered the Responder Education Assistance and Certification Training, or REACT, to 120 municipal responders in 36 communities.

Finally, the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway obtained RAC's 2008 Safety Award for providing its employees a more direct connection to crew calling as part of a fatigue management strategy. The short line used the Internet to help employees plan their rest periods more efficiently without depending on a call to work from their supervisor.

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More News from 10/7/2008