Canadian Ministerial Orders issued to reduce derailments and improve rail safety

Posted: 7 April 2020 | | 1 comment

Three Ministerial Orders issued by the Canadian Minister of Transport will work to improve rail safety and reduce derailments of key trains and higher-risk key trains.

Canadian Ministerial Orders issued to reduce derailments and improve rail safety

Canada’s Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, has announced new measures that will work to improve rail safety across the country and reduce train derailments through three different Ministerial Orders directed to railway companies. The three new Ministerial Orders will come into effect immediately and will remain in place until permanent rule changes are approved.

Marc said: “Rail safety remains my top priority, and the Government of Canada is continuously looking for ways to make our railway system even safer for Canadians. I recognise that railway operations in Canada are carried out in a highly complex and difficult environment, but I believe that a strong response is warranted after the series of derailments of trains carrying crude oil. The measures are being implemented to reduce main track derailments and encourage safe railway operations.”

The new Ministerial Orders require speed restrictions for key trains – which have one or more loaded tank cars of dangerous goods that are toxic by inhalation or contain 20 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods – and higher-risk key trains – trains that carry crude oil or liquefied petroleum gases in a continuous block of 20 or more tank cars or 35 or more tank cars dispersed throughout the train.

Following measures first put in place on 16 February 2020, in response to the derailments of trains carrying crude oil that occurred in 2019, the first Ministerial Order requires railway companies to maintain lower speeds in metropolitan areas for trains carrying large quantities of crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas – for example, higher risk key trains with further mandatory speed reductions everywhere during the winter months (from 15 November to 15 March). In addition to speed restrictions, the first order also directs companies to address the management of their track maintenance and inspection.

The second and third Ministerial Orders were issued to direct railway companies to update the current industry rules governing track safety and the movement of dangerous goods in Canada. These orders will ensure these measures to reduce train speeds and improve maintenance and inspection practices become a permanent part of safer railway operations in Canada.

One response to “Canadian Ministerial Orders issued to reduce derailments and improve rail safety”

  1. Peter van der Mark says:

    Very good, of course, but let’s not forget that the majority of catastrophic emergencies in Canada occurred due to sub-standard infrastructure or operating practices (Lac Megantic). I think, also discussing the issue with experts in Canada, that sufficient investment in the state of train maintenance, railway infrastructure and train management to assure train safety are of major importance here. And yes, that is going to cost a lot of money, but on the other side, may in fact improve transit times through higher speeds.

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