Canadian Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt discussed the critical role of the railway industry as the government strengthens railway safety standards with the Advisory Council on Railway Safety.
“The safety of Canadians is our top priority,” said Minister Raitt. “Our government understands that by working together with the stakeholders in the transportation sector, we can make Canada’s rail system safer and more secure.”
Minister Raitt reiterated the government’s priority of safety and highlighted its actions, including issuing an emergency directive to railway companies requiring: trains carrying dangerous goods be operated by at least two people; no trains carrying dangerous goods be left unattended on a main track; locomotive cabs be secured against unauthorized entry; directional controls be removed from unattended trains; special instructions on hand brakes would be applied to locomotives attached to one or more cars and left unattended for more than one hour and automatic brakes would be set to full service position and the independent brake would be fully applied to locomotives attached to one or more cars and left unattended for less than one hour.
She also noted the issuing of a ministerial order obligating railway companies to develop rules to comply with these requirements permanently.
Minister Raitt talked about the government taking targeted action to make the transportation of dangerous goods safer and the protective direction, requiring consignors to conduct classification tests on crude oil, recently issued by Transport Canada.
She also discussed the way forward, including how the advisory council can play a crucial role in the government’s accelerated development and implementation of regulations that reflect recent amendments to the Railway Safety Act.
She asked Advisory Council members to: examine operations, while balancing the legitimate concerns of communities, to identify concrete actions that can be taken to further reduce safety risks; provide updates on the implementation of the ministerial order issued in July, specifically concerning crew sizes and securing of rail cars and explore what can be done to address train speed in urban areas, operator fatigue, technology and any other areas that they feel need to be addressed.
“I am convinced that, by working together, we will strengthen both the safety of our rail system and the role it will play in Canada’s future,” said Minister Raitt.