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Rail News: Canadian Pacific

CP knocks safety leader's comments on train-crew fatigue

CP officials expressed disappointment at TSB Chair Kathy Fox's comments on train-crew fatigue.
Photo – Canadian Pacific


Canadian Pacific officials yesterday expressed disappointment with Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) Chair Kathy Fox's comments on the topic of fatigue in the rail industry, which the board addressed with its latest safety watchlist.

Earlier this week, the TSB released its annual safety watchlist, which identifies the key safety issues that the board says should be addressed in the rail, air and marine sectors. This year's list includes crew fatigue, which TSB Chair Kathy Fox said in a press release has been a factor in numerous railroad investigations, "most notably regarding freight-train operations."

"Too many train crews aren't getting the rest they need, whether it's shifts that are too long or irregular scheduling that interferes with normal sleep times," Fox said. "It's time for the railway industry to start applying fatigue science to crew scheduling, instead of calling for more studies."

CP officials said that, although they welcome the focus on rail safety, the discussions on rail-worker fatigue should be fact-based. They took issue with Fox's Oct. 31 press conference in which she said — according to CP — that 6 percent of human-caused rail incidents may have involved fatigue. That statement is not based in fact, CP officials said in a press release.

"We would welcome the chance to meet with the chairwoman and Transport Canada to provide the context and detail necessary to dispel any misconceptions that continue to distort conversations over this crucial issue, and to lend our support in implementing important change," said CP President and Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel. "It is well past time we moved the discussion of work, rest and time-off choices for locomotive engineers and conductors beyond emotional and deceptive rhetoric into the arena of fact."

CP has "fought hard" to put the topics of predictable scheduling and better work-life balance for locomotive engineers and conductors on the negotiation table, "but has been thwarted at every turn," stated the CP release.

"This is an issue of choice: choice for our engineers and conductors; choice for their union leadership; and choice for Transport Canada, who can help bring about meaningful change for the benefit of public safety and hardworking railroaders," Creel said. "It is easy for both the TSB and [Teamsters Canada Rail Conference] to highlight problems, but we remain focussed on meaningful solutions and meaningful change."

During labor negotiations with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), CP sought predictable work and mandatory time-off schedules for train crews, but the union rejected the proposal, according to CP's press release.

Meanwhile, TCRC officials thanked the TSB for recognizing crew fatigue by placing it on the board's safety watchlist.

"Reducing crew fatigue has been a major focal point for our union. This announcement should raise awareness and spark more definitive action from the government and the industry," said TCRC President Doug Finnson. "We've always believed that fighting fatigue should be based on sound science, not operational efficiency."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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