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Recent rail accidents involving crude oil — including the July 6 Lac-Megantic, Quebec, derailment — have fostered the misperceptions that rail safety in Canada is poor and that little regulatory effort has been devoted to prompting improvements, according to the Canadian Transportation Research Forum's (CTRF) new policy briefing.Titled, "Rail Safety in Transporting Dangerous Goods in Canada: What Are the Needs for Changes to the Regulatory Framework?", the briefing states that mainline collisions and derailments have declined more than 50 percent in Canada during the past decade. "Not only has rail safety performance improved but the federal Railway Safety Act has been reviewed and amended in recent years," said CTRF President Marc-André Roy in a press release. "Nonetheless, there are opportunities for further improvement, some of which is based on previous Transportation Safety Board recommendations not yet fully implemented."A nonprofit association of transportation professionals, CTRF supports a review of the nation's regulatory framework and potential changes, such as to enhance standards for DOT-111 tank cars; strengthen railroads' third-party liability insurance regulations; identify concrete actions that can be taken to further reduce safety risks; and revisit relevant safety board recommendations that haven't been fully realized, he said.Regulatory authorities and stakeholders need to act in an integrated manner to improve safety, said Malcolm Cairns, who authored the briefing."It is also important that the design and implementation of any regulatory changes avoid imposing costs on the industries that are disproportionately greater than the expected value of the safety improvements," he said.The CTRF plans to host a one-day conference before year's end to bring together key stakeholders to discuss safety and regulatory issues.
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