‘This will further reduce the risk of derailments during the coldest weather conditions, and improve efficiency of winter rail operations’
Transport Canada has issued a new Ministerial Order under the Rail Safety Act to restrict train speeds based on cold temperature conditions, instead of restricting train speed based on a winter date range as required in the previous Ministerial Order.
“Cold temperatures influence railway operations and can affect the integrity of the rail infrastructure. To better protect Canadians who live and work along rail lines, this Ministerial Order prescribes speed restrictions during cold weather, specifically for trains carrying large quantities of dangerous goods,” said Marc Garneau, minister of transport. “This will further reduce the risk of derailments during the coldest weather conditions, and improve efficiency of winter rail operations.”
Under the order, railway companies will be required to develop and submit a Winter Operations Plan specific to each subdivision where higher risk key trains operate. It also specifies a number of additional key elements that must be satisfied in order to achieve a greater standard of safety during cold weather conditions, including:
- improved track inspection and track maintenance practices;
- requirement for further speed restrictions if warranted due to inspection results;
- requirement of risk mitigation measures to account for rapid temperature fluctuation;
- requirement of the use of new technology to detect a rail break; and
- requirement for approval of the plan by a professional engineer.
The order takes into account that different regions of the country can experience very different temperature ranges on any given day, while also considering the possibility of abnormal temperature fluctuations that may occur outside the Nov. 15 to March 15 period.
The conditions of the new Ministerial Order take immediate effect. However, railway companies that do not develop a Winter Operations Plan specific to each subdivision where higher risk key trains operate will be required to adhere to the original the date-based approach to reducing their speeds during the winter months, beginning Nov. 15.
Speed limit restrictions for railway companies with a Winter Operations Plan specific to each subdivision where higher risk key trains operate:
Last month, Transport Canada announced new safety measures following the conclusion of an investigation into a fatal incident in 2017 conducted by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. Earlier, it released the 2020 edition of its Emergency Response Guidebook.