Loading Freight Cars Safely
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The safe and efficient loading of railcars is important to both the railway industry and its customers.
Loads, especially on open top cars, must be secured in a manner that will maximize damage free transportation of commodities, and ensure that safe railway operations are not compromised. This will also facilitate the interchange of loaded cars between railways.
The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) is committed to ensuring that railway service is competitive with highway transport and that loading, unloading, blocking and bracing of rail cars does not add unnecessary delay or costs to railway customers. Railway marketing and operating personnel also have a direct interest in safe and efficient loading practices.
The loading of both open top and closed cars is governed by rules and regulations developed by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and RAC approved by Transport Canada (TC). Compliance with AAR loading rules and RAC loading circulars is mandatory under the Railway Safety Act of Canada.
Any railway or its customers may submit a loading proposal to the RAC Manager of Car Loading Rules in order to obtain an RAC circular. Once the proposal is evaluated, tested and proven adequately safe, the RAC Loading Rules Committee will then approve the issuance of an RAC circular which will allow the movement on Canadian rails of cars loaded to this configuration.
The RAC Loading Rules Committee includes representatives of member railways, and the RAC, who are directly involved in the loading procedures of the railway industry.
The RAC serves its members and their customers by promoting safe loading procedures and industry practices, informing shippers and railway employees of safe practices and ensuring the rules are applied consistently. We may also mediate disputes between railways or between railways and customers. This activity is handled through the RAC in the most cost-effective manner possible.
Car Loading Rules Application
The RAC has two full-time Managers, Car Loading Rules. Their responsibilities are:
- To monitor rail transportation and promote safe car loading and transportation practices through instructions and advice to shippers and railway personnel responsible for the loading and handling of rails cars;
- To be knowledgeable of loading rules and best practices, as issued by the Railway Association of Canada, the Association of American Railroads and Transport Canada in order to provide appropriate interpretation to shippers and member railways, when requested;
- To promote improved loading practices by shippers and within the industry for domestic and international traffic moved by closed or open top freight cars, containers and trailers on flat cars, or any other specially equipped cars or oversize shipments;
- To provide assistance to shippers or railways in developing new loading patterns or revisions to existing AAR, RAC and TC rules or procedures;
- To encourage and promote good customer and railway relations.
- The car loading rules managers each year inspect thousands of loads of various commodities and car types. Their work includes inspection of loads in railway yards or on customer sidings. Should any load be considered unsafe or not loaded to prescribed loading rules, they are authorized by their members to prohibit its movement until properly loaded.
The managers participate in the activities of the AAR Open Top Loading Rules Committee and meet with AAR personnel to exchange information of mutual interest. This continued close relationship with their U.S. colleagues is particularly important due to the large volume of trans-border interchange traffic.
One of the most important aspects of their duties relates to education. The managers spend a substantial amount of time conducting information seminars for shippers and railway personnel.
This educational work is a continuing process as personnel change and equipment, rules and methods evolve. The RAC has developed manuals and audiovisual material pertaining to the rules and regulations to support their training programs.
The RAC is pleased to undertake this work on behalf of the railway industry and its customers and we look forward to working with you.