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The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway's July 6 derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, remains a sobering reminder that "safety must be an absolute priority to prevent accidents from harming communities and the environment," said CN President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau during an address yesterday at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's International Trade Day in Ottawa.Canadian railroads have a solid record of improving their safety performance and remain committed to achieving further gains, he said."Railways' mainline accident rate per million train miles declined by more than 40 percent between 2001 and 2012 as a result of sizable investments in rail infrastructure, improved safety processes, and a continuing focus on employee training and safety awareness," said Mongeau.CN and the rail industry are proactively responding to the Lac-Mégantic accident by taking a comprehensive view of ways to further improve safety, he said. They're also trying to ensure safe loading and unloading procedures, properly identify hazardous goods and seek ways to improve tank-car safety, Mongeau added.At the local level, CN works with communities to help them prepare for and respond to a potential haz-mat incident."We recently launched a comprehensive outreach program along our network to inform emergency responders and civic officials about the types of commodities that are moving through their communities and the relevance of those commodities to local economies," said Mongeau.To help set the future course of rail safety, the industry continues to work closely with regulators, he said."I believe a fact-based, balanced and consultative approach to any proposed regulatory changes will be vital to make sure we make sustainable progress," said Mongeau.
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