Minister of Transport moves to improve fatigue management for railway employees

News release

December 21, 2018    Ottawa, Ontario    Government of Canada

Transport Canada recognizes that fatigue must be addressed in all modes of transportation and is committed to doing all it can to protect the safety of Canadians.

Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, instructed railway companies to revise the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees, to ensure that they reflect the latest science and fatigue management practices. The railway companies must submit them by May 19, 2019 for the Minister to approve them by the end of June 2019.

Rules are developed by railway companies, in consultation with relevant associations, like unions, and are subsequently approved by the Minister of Transport. Transport Canada is responsible for making sure that railway companies comply with the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees.

Over the past 20 years, the science relating to fatigue has evolved and the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees no longer reflect the latest information. Since being approved in 2002, minor changes have been made to work/rest rules and, in 2011, the requirement for fatigue management plans was introduced.

A Ministerial Order, issued today following continued work to address rail fatigue, specifies that railway companies shall revise the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees to address such elements as:

  • Length of a duty period

  • Split Duty (Split Shifts)

  • Minimum rest period

  • Cumulative time on duty

  • Minimum time free from work

  • Advance notice of work schedules

  • Fatigue management plans

If the Minister is not satisfied with the revisions to the work/rest rules that are submitted by railway companies, he is authorized to establish work/rest rules for the companies to follow.


“The science on fatigue has evolved considerably since the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees were first put into place in 2002. We now have a better understanding of the extent to which fatigue can affect human performance and ultimately compromise railway safety. We need to make changes now.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • The Railway Safety Act provides the Minister of Transport with the authority to issue a Ministerial Order to railway companies to revise its operating rules in regards to this matter.

  • The Ministerial Order has been issued as a key action following the Notice of Intent that was published on November 11, 2017, which stated Transport Canada’s intent to amend the rail safety regulatory framework to address fatigue-related issues.

Associated links


Delphine Denis
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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