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Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation

10/24/2022



Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Canada orders VIA Rail to address HEP rail-car safety


Issued late last week, the order addresses VIA Rail's reports of unsafe structural conditions of HEP cars.
Photo – tsb.gc.ca

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Canada's Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra has ordered VIA Rail Canada Inc. to institute certain safety precautions on its head-end power (HEP) rail cars.

Issued late last week, the order addresses VIA Rail's reports of unsafe structural conditions of HEP cars, leading to safety concerns in the event of a collision, Transport Canada officials said in the order.

Because the rail cars were built between the 1940s and 1960s, they aren't subject to the federal government's Railway Passenger Car Inspection & Safety Rules passed in 2001. Those rules provide guidance for the inspection of safety defects and design in passenger-rail cars.

To comply with the order, VIA Rail is required to:

  • position empty rolling stock behind the locomotive as a buffer and ensure HEP cars are positioned as per the engineering consultant's recommendation to minimize impact;
  • conduct an engineering simulation of predicted HEP car collision performance and report those findings to the government by Oct. 31;
  • conduct a tear-down inspection of four HEP cars with structural defects and report the findings by Jan. 31, 2023;
  • conduct a static structural test to the requirements of the Association of American Railroads to validate structural capacity and report the findings by Jan. 31, 2023;
  • provide a final report of the engineering simulation by March 31, 2023; and
  • conduct a static structural test to AAR requirements to validate repair methodology and report the findings by Dec. 31, 2023.

While the cars can continue to withstand normal operating loads in regular service, an engineering consultant has recommended that VIA Rail follow the order until a structural reinforcement and repair program for the HEP fleet is created, Transport Canada officials said.