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Rail News: Safety
TSB updates 'transportation safety watchlist'
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) late last week released its updated Watchlist for 2014 to help raise awareness about safety issues that pose the greatest risk to the nation's rail, marine and air transportation sectors.
The Watchlist cites such rail issues as obeying signal indications, requiring onboard video and voice recorders, enhancing grade crossing safety and better securing flammable liquid movements. The TSB is calling on Transport Canada to ensure flammable liquids are safely transported by rail by requiring railroads to properly classify the products, move them in containers featuring the safest design and conduct a route risk assessment to proactively mitigate risks.
The number of crossing collisions remains high, problems persist with rail signal indications not being recognized and followed, and there is still no requirement for onboard locomotive video and voice recorders, TSB officials said in a press release. Moreover, recent investigations — including one into the July 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, — have identified problems with Transport Canada oversight, including a failure to identify companies' ineffective processes, and an imbalance between auditing processes and traditional inspections, they said.
"Our role at the TSB is to shine a spotlight on the areas where strong action must be taken by the regulator and transportation industry officials, and our evidence is found in hundreds of accident investigations, thousands of hours of research and dozens of recommendations," said TSB Chair Kathy Fox. "For each of the issues identified on our Watchlist, we believe actions taken to date are insufficient. We expect Transport Canada and the transportation industry to take concrete steps to eliminate those identified risks."
The need for onboard locomotive video and voice recorders is an excellent example of an alignment between the TSB and the railway industry, Railway Association of Canada (RAC) officials said in a press release. Canadian railroads have long sought changes that would allow the use of recording devices in locomotive cabs for use both in accident investigations and as part of each railroad's Safety Management System, they said. The devices would reduce risk, enhance safety and have an immediate effect on the behavior of employees who carry enormous responsibility as engineers and conductors, RAC officials said.
"The railway industry must ensure that communications and interactions in locomotive cabs are recorded. The TSB is committed to working with the regulator and the railway industry to remove legislative barriers," said RAC President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Bourque.
Although rail operating employees and unions have legitimate privacy concerns about the use of recorded information, railroads are committed to ensuring the recordings are only used by the TSB for accident investigations and by authorized rail personnel for legitimate safety management purposes, RAC officials said.
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.