Minister Garneau responds to the 2018 Railway Safety Act Review Report
April 12, 2019 Ottawa, Ontario Transport Canada
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, issued the following statement today:
“The Government of Canada is committed to keeping Canadians safe by improving rail safety.
“I launched the statutory review of Canada's Railway Safety Act – one year ahead of schedule – to make sure that this important legislation continues to uphold the best interests of Canadians.
“The review was carried out by an independent, third-party review panel over a 12-month period, which included extensive consultations across the country and online to give all interested parties the opportunity to share their views.
“The Railway Safety Act Review Panel presented a final report of their findings and recommendations on April 30, 2018, which I tabled in Parliament on May 31, 2018.
“The report finds that the Railway Safety Act is sound, and that our rail transportation system is getting safer overall. However, the report concludes that Canada’s rail safety regime needs to modernize to better address difficult and long-standing rail safety issues, tackle new challenges, and harness new opportunities that technology can bring to improve rail safety.
“I have accepted the report’s 16 recommendations, which will help address persistent rail safety issues and position Canada’s rail transportation system to meet the challenges of the next decade.
“Supported by feedback from stakeholders, Transport Canada agrees that the report identifies the right rail safety priorities. We have already started taking actions to address certain rail safety issues that are also consistent with the recommendations.
“On December 20, 2018, I issued a Ministerial Order instructing railway companies to revise the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees to ensure they reflect the latest fatigue science and fatigue management practices. The Railway companies must submit their proposals by May 19, 2019, for approval by the end of June 2019. These are necessary changes, now that we have a better understanding of the extent to which fatigue can affect human performance and ultimately compromise railway safety.
“Transport Canada has also put into place the conditions to develop regulations for locomotive voice and video recorders through the Transportation Modernization Act, which received Royal Assent last spring. Mandating locomotive voice and video recorders will further strengthen the safety of Canada’s rail transportation system by providing critical information that will improve our understanding of the events leading up to an accident, as well as to help prevent future accidents.
“We have increased the number of dangerous goods and rail safety inspectors from 35 and 144 in 2013, to 120 and 259 as of last year, and increased the number of inspections. Inspectors have also been given new powers to levy penalties of up to $250,000 for infractions.
Furthermore, we have taken less-crash resistant tank cars out of service and developed a new rail tank car standard specifically designed for transporting flammable liquids by rail. Transport Canada has imposed stricter requirements for securing unattended trains, ending the transport of certain flammable liquids in older, less-crash-resistant tank cars even faster than originally planned. We will continue this important work as we move forward in implementing the recommendations made in the report.
“A number of long-standing rail safety issues cannot be resolved by Transport Canada alone, including the high rate of accidents related to grade crossings and trespassing, an area of shared responsibility among jurisdictions. We will need to bring a broader range of partners together to work with us to find ways to reduce these largely preventable deaths and injuries.
This is why Transport Canada has engaged with a number of stakeholders by holding focused roundtables across the country to discuss priorities and issues to consider in implementing the report’s recommendations.
Looking ahead, Budget 2019 provides $229 million in funding so we can continue making improvements to rail safety and the safe transportation of dangerous goods. This includes up to four more years of funding for infrastructure, technology and research projects, as well as projects to increase rail safety awareness under the Rail Safety Improvement Program.
I am pleased with the positive reactions we have received from industry and community stakeholders as a result of this Railway Safety Act Review. I am confident that the actions we take together to respond to the findings and recommendations of the Railway Safety Act Review will help us to modernize our approach to rail safety so that Canada can continue to maintain one of the safest rail systems in the world.
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
Transport Canada, Ottawa
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