Safety and Security Technologies

In addition to human inspections of every train, advanced technology accounts for much of Rail's improved long term safety performance. Continuous welded rail and roller bearing wheels have reduced the danger of derailment. Automatic heat detectors placed at frequent intervals along the track scan axles for overheated bearing wheels and dragging equipment that could derail trains.

Electronic centralized traffic control and state-of-the-art communications ensure that trains are running over clear track, while three-axle radial trucks keep wheels parallel over curves, significantly reducing potentially dangerous wheel wear. Special inspection cars use electronic sensing devices to see that rails and roadbeds are safe.

To improve public safety at road rail level crossings, railways have sourced innovative materials to alert the public to rail property. These include:

  • LED (Light emitting diode) technology lasts longer than traditional light, and has helped to make railway crossing lights more visible from farther distances;
  • Retro-reflective materials have been applied to crossbucks at many passive crossings, with the result being more visible signage when no railcar is present and a strobe-light effect when a train is using the crossing;
  • The same material is also being applied to freight cars and locomotives. This will ultimately increase awareness of a train crossing when no active system is in place.
  • Infrared digital imaging provides accurate rail integrity testing.

Because international trade is both fiercely competitive and vitally important to the Canadian economy, Canada is one of the world's most active trading nations. Exports represent 60 per cent of the gross domestic product. Three quarters of Canada's exports are carried for all or part of their journey to market by Rail.

For example, Customs clearance systems and procedures for goods traffic moving cross-border by Rail (more than 100 trains a day between Canada and the United States) are based on electronic commerce among Canadian and American Rail carriers and Customs agencies. Detailed information on a train's content is relayed by computer to Customs as the train approaches the border and a release or inspect notice is issued within minutes, as soon as the train crosses the border. Shipments to be inspected in transit are scanned by x-ray.

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