Minister of Transport issues Orders to reduce derailments and improve rail safety

News release

April 3, 2020    Ottawa, Ontario    Transport Canada

Utmost care is necessary to ensure the safe transportation of dangerous goods by rail and to protect both rail workers and those living nearby Canada’s rail corridors.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced measures to improve rail safety in Canada and reduce train derailments through three different Ministerial Orders directed to railway companies.

The new Ministerial Order requires speed restrictions for key trains and higher-risk key trains:

  • Key trains 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.
  • Higher-risk key trains 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 February 16, 2020, in response to the derailments of trains carrying crude oil that occurred earlier this winter, 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 i.e. higher risk key trains with further mandatory speed reductions everywhere during the winter months (from November 15 to March 15).

In addition to the speed restrictions, this 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.

The three new Ministerial Orders will come into effect immediately and will remain in place until permanent rule changes are approved.

Speed limit restrictions:

Type of train Speed limit of train in metropolitan areas Speed limit of train in areas where there are track signals Speed limit of train in areas where there are no track signals
Higher-risk key trains
March 16 to November 14
30 mph 50 mph 50 mph
Higher-risk key trains
November 15 to March 15
25 mph 40 mph
OR 30 mph when temperature is
-25°C or colder
25 mph
Key trains 35 mph 50 mph 50 mph


“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 recognize 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 Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport 

Quick facts

  • Main track derailments can occur as the result of a number of different factors, including the impact of colder temperature, track conditions, equipment issues (e.g., failures related to wheels or brakes), as well as human factors.

  • The measures announced also respond to Transportation Safety Board of Canada data showing that track issues are often the primary cause in main track derailments in Canada.


Livia Belcea
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
(613) 991-0700

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Search for related information by keyword: Transport | Transport Canada | Canada | Transport and infrastructure | general public | news releases

Page details

Date modified: