This week, the Canadian Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced that the Government of Canada is taking new actions to improve rail safety, in alignment with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s recommendations regarding the derailment in Field, British Columbia, in 2019.
On July 25, a new Ministerial Order went into effect and require[s] railway companies to propose revisions to rules for the Minister’s approval. The revisions to be proposed will enhance regular pre-departure inspections and periodic maintenance of air brakes on trains and address the elevated risks of operating trains in cold temperatures. In addition, the order requires rail companies to develop a winter operating plan for their equipment. That plan would specify actions to be taken when temperatures are very cold, including implementing speed restrictions and performing enhanced inspections. This will address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s recommendation to enhance inspection and maintenance requirements for brakes on steep grades in cold weather.
The Minister of Transport also announced that, beginning in September 2022, Transport Canada will launch a working group with railway companies to consider the design and safety parameters of automatic parking brakes. Transport Canada will also conduct testing of automatic braking technology under real world operating conditions to verify safety and performance. This is in alignment with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s recommendation to install automatic parking brakes on all freight cars.
Finally, in agreement with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s third recommendation for Transport Canada, the Government of Canada will launch targeted audits of Canadian Pacific Railway by August 2022, to assess the effectiveness of their safety management systems and training regime. In parallel, the department will conduct oversight of Canadian Pacific Railway’s occupational health and safety committees. This will enable Transport Canada to monitor whether the company is effectively identifying and addressing hazards.
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