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Rail News: Safety

Canadian legislators again seek rail safety act amendments


On Friday, Canadian Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Denis Lebel announced the reintroduction of federal legislation designed to improve rail safety in Canada.

The legislation proposes amendments to the Railway Safety Act of 1989 that would encourage railroads to “create and maintain a culture of safety,” Lebel said in a prepared statement. The amendments would enable the federal government to strengthen safety requirements for railroads; establish tougher monetary penalties and increase judicial penalties for breaking rail safety laws; create whistleblower protections for employees who raise safety concerns; and require each railroad to assign an executive who would be legally responsible for safety.

“Our government recognizes the importance of a safe and secure national railway system to Canada's economic well-being, [and] this legislation improves rail safety and makes the Railway Safety Act consistent with acts governing other modes of transportation,” said Lebel.

The Railway Safety Act — which sets the regulatory framework for addressing rail safety and security, and some environmental impacts of rail operations — authorizes Transport Canada to oversee railway safety in Canada. In June 2010, proposed amendments to the act were tabled in the House of Commons and passed a second reading, but the legislation later was terminated in March 2011 when the third session of Parliament was dissolved by a royal proclamation.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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