Updated work/rest rules for railway operating employees


The science on fatigue has evolved considerably since the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees were first put into place in 2002.

Transport Canada introduced the requirement for fatigue management plans to the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees in 2011.

The table below provides a summary of updates to the rules which have been made to better target the issue of railway operator fatigue since 2011.

Summary of improvements to the Duty/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees:


2011 Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees

2020 Updated Duty/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees

Length of duty period

Up to 16 hours per duty period
No fatigue mitigation measures

12-hour limit
Fatigue assessment and intervention measures for shifts ending during overnight hours

Total work hours

No weekly, monthly or annual limits

60 hours in a 7-day period;
192 hours in a 28-day period; and
2500 hours per year

Rest periods

6 hours at home
8 hours away

12 hours at home
10 hours away

(the authorized transportation of operating employees from one location to another)

Lack of clarity between time spent commuting versus deadheading

Commuting time vs. deadheading defined
Adjustment to hours of rest based on time spent deadheading

Time away from work

No allowance

32 hours every 7 days with
two 8-hour rest periods for freight railway operations

Fatigue Management Plans

Minimal requirements

Set of extensive, prescriptive requirements related to specific elements of the new rules and grounded in fatigue science.

Next steps

Under the new rules, railway companies will need to complete their Fatigue Management Plans within 12 months and implement the Fitness for Duty provisions within 24 months. In consideration of the significant changes required under these rules, the requirements regarding the length of work and rest periods will take effect in 30 months from today for freight railways, and in 48 months from today for passenger railways, to ensure implementation

Transport Canada's oversight

Transport Canada's role is to monitor railway companies for compliance with rules, regulations, and standards made under the Railway Safety Act. The department will monitor compliance with the new rules through the inspection of hours worked by a sample of employees and in response to any complaints made that the rules are not being followed.

If non-compliance or a safety concern is found, Transport Canada takes appropriate enforcement action based on the severity of the safety issue and can involve one or more of several compliance and enforcement tools, including Letters of Non-Compliance, Notices, Notices and Orders, Administrative Monetary Penalties and Prosecution.

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