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Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN


Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN

CN bolsters safety management system to better prevent haz-mat accidents


CN yesterday identified several significant steps it's taking to strengthen its Safety Management System, especially for hazardous materials shipments.

The Class I has developed a comprehensive work plan featuring three major components to bolster overall safety performance and enhance CN's record of delivering 99.998 percent of dangerous goods to destination without a release caused by an accident, said President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau in a press release.

The first component calls for preventing accidents through processes, technology, people and investments as part of a sound Safety Management System, he said. The railroad has conducted a comprehensive review of its train securement practices; implemented a special program to acquire additional monitoring equipment to enhance the early detection of rail defects and mitigate the severity of accidents; applied a U.S. "key train policy" to freight trains carrying one car loaded with toxic inhalation hazardous materials, or 20 cars loaded with any hazardous goods, and voluntarily extended the policy to Canadian operations; and strengthened its safety culture by revitalizing training programs and establishing two new state-of-the art training facilities that are set to open later this year in Winnipeg and Chicago.

The second component calls for addressing risks associated with older DOT-111 tank cars used to move highly flammable products. CN is carrying out a gradual phase out of its small fleet of 183 legacy DOT-111 tank cars used to transport diesel to yards as fuel for locomotives and spending $7 million to replace all its owned DOT-111 cars by year's end with 40 new tank cars that meet the latest regulatory standards, said Mongeau. The Class I's remaining 143 leased DOT-111 cars also will be replaced via a gradual phase-out plan as leases mature over the next four years.

"For CN, tank car design is one of the most important systemic issues arising from the Lac-Mégantic accident," said Mongeau. "The question of tank car robustness is central, and that question is being addressed by the Association of American Railroads, which in recent recommendations [has called] for the retrofitting or phase-out of the old DOT-111 cars used to transport flammable liquids and a reinforced standard for new tank cars built in the future."

The third component of CN's work plans calls for strengthening emergency response capabilities through sharing of relevant information with communities, training support and mutual aid intervention protocols. CN is urging the implementation of the protocols, with the participation of other carriers and producers of hazardous commodities, to help codify emergency response standards and expand response resources to increase preparation for any future rail incidents involving haz-mat goods.

"CN believes that the rail industry can enhance safety by working more closely with communities," said Mongeau. [We have] already done this by launching a comprehensive outreach program to meet municipalities and their emergency responders along its network in order to discuss the nature and volumes of dangerous commodities transported through the communities we serve."