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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Transport Canada takes steps to address rail safety shortcomings cited by TSB


Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt yesterday announced several measures Transport Canada plans to take to address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's (TSB) recommendations stemming from its final report on the July 2013 train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

The TSB issued two recommendations and two safety advisories in the report. In response, Transport Canada will:

• require railroads to meet standardized requirements for hand-brake applications and implement additional physical defenses to secure trains;

• increase oversight by recruiting additional staff to carry out more frequent audits and create processes for increased information sharing with municipalities;

• conduct further research on crude-oil properties, behavior and hazards, and launch a targeted inspection campaign to verify the classification of rail shipments; and

• require certain railroads (including short lines) to submit training plans for review, and conduct an audit blitz of short lines to determine specific training gaps.

The Canadian government now has responded to all TSB recommendations and advisories by taking "more immediate, meaningful action" to further improve rail safety and the safe transportation of dangerous goods, Raitt said in a press release.

“Our government remains committed to strengthening the safety of our country’s railways and the transportation of dangerous goods," she said. "The [new] measures … build on actions already taken and address the specific recommendations and advisories issued by the Transportation Safety Board.”

The government plans to keep bolstering rail safety by continuing to work closely with all stakeholders, including railroads, shippers, municipalities, first responders, Aboriginal communities, provincial and territorial governments, and U.S. officials, said Raitt.

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) supports the government's new safety measures. The association has worked collaboratively with Transport Canada to address the TSB's recommendations and its members will comply fully with all new rules, RAC officials said in a press release.

"We will continue to support the government in developing new requirements to further enhance the safety of Canada’s rail network," said RAC President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Bourque.

Association officials also back the government's reaffirmed confidence in safety management systems as an additional line of defense. Since the Lac-Megantic tragedy, Canadian railroads have launched new initiatives to improve safety, transparency and emergency preparedness, and redoubled their safety efforts, RAC officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/30/2014