'These Ministerial Orders improve rail safety by requiring that additional layers of defence be put in place to prevent these kinds of accidents'
Transport Canada has issued two new Ministerial Orders under the Railway Safety Act to further reduce the risk of uncontrolled movement of rail equipment.
“Building safer communities and protecting Canadians who live and work along rail lines is a priority. The majority of uncontrolled train movements take place in rail yards where the risk to the public is lower, but they can still be serious, especially for railway employees,” said Omar Alghabra, minister of transport. “These Ministerial Orders improve rail safety by requiring that additional layers of defence be put in place to prevent these kinds of accidents.”
The first order requires the railway companies to implement specific procedures that must be followed by their locomotive engineers to prevent the uncontrolled movement of railway equipment due to an unintended release of the train’s air brakes.
Under the second order, the railway industry stakeholders are asked to propose amendments to the Railway Locomotive Inspection and Safety Rules and the Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) for the minister’s approval. The amendments will include:
- improving performance standards for locomotives equipped with roll-away protection, which is a feature designed to apply the air brakes when movement is detected; and,
- clarifying the definition of an ‘unattended train’ under the CROR, for more consistent application of the rule.
The new orders are prompted by the uncontrolled movement of a Goderich-Exeter Railway train, which led to a derailment in Goderich, Ontario, on Feb. 1, 2021.
In November 2020, Transport Canada updated the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees first introduced in 2011 to better reflect the latest science on fatigue management and keep Canadians working or living near railways safe.
In October 2020, the minister of transport put measures in place for railways to adopt new practices for their employees to follow, designed to prevent uncontrolled movement while conducting switching operations and to ensure that equipment is properly secured in this process.
In April 2020, Transport Canada approved a new Rule 66 of the CROR, to help ensure that effective safety procedures are applied to all trains that come to emergency stops on steep grades. This change to the rules puts into place additional permanent layers of defence to secure attended trains and prevent an uncontrolled movement on both heavy grades and mountain grades.