Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Transport Canada issues emergency directive to increase rail safety

Transport Canada is moving forward to build upon the safety advisories received recently from the Transportation Safety Board and further enhance existing safe railway operations and the security of railway transportation by issuing an emergency directive pursuant to section 33 of the Canadian Railway Safety Act to increase rail safety.

 

Effective immediately, the emergency directive requires all rail operators to:

• Ensure that no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods is operated with fewer than two qualified persons on a main track or sidings.

• Ensure that no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods is left unattended on a main track.

• Ensure, within five days of the issuance of the directive, that all unattended controlling locomotives on a main track and sidings are protected from unauthorized entry into the cab.

• Ensure the directional controls are removed from any unattended locomotives, preventing them from moving forward or backward, on a main track or sidings.

• Ensure that their company's special instructions on hand brakes are applied to any locomotive attached to one or more cars that is left unattended for more than one hour on a main track or sidings.

• Ensure that, in addition to complying with their company's special instructions on hand, the automatic brake is set in full service position and the independent brake is fully applied for any locomotive attached to one or more cars that are left unattended for one hour or less on a main track or sidings.

Transport Canada has been in contact with the railway industry and in particular with Canadian National (CN), Canadian Pacific and the Railway Association of Canada to work together to promote the continued safety of Canada's rail system.

Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN, said, Transport Canada's Section 33 directive will enhance the effectiveness of train securement procedures and safety across the Canadian rail industry.

Building on its robust train securement policies for unattended trains that are anchored on multiple safety defences, Mongeau says CN will adjust its safety practices to comply with the directive.

"The government's new safety rules will help to reduce the risk of unintended train movements that can lead to catastrophic accidents such as the one in Lac-Mégantic, QB," Mongeau said.

"This rail accident, the most devastating in decades, will be thoroughly investigated by federal authorities to determine exactly what went wrong and what needs to be done to prevent such accidents in the future. This tragedy is a sober reminder to the industry that safety must be an absolute priority to prevent accidents from harming the communities and the environment railways must go through.

"Notwithstanding that accidents can always happen, the movement of hazardous material by rail is handled with a very high level of safety. The fact is that 99.99 percent of dangerous goods moving by rail arrive at their destination without a release caused by an accident."

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