The Railway Association of Canada advocates for smart regulations and an effective safety regime. Its members are always open to new ways to improve safety. As the record proves over these last twenty years, this informed dialogue and exchange with regulators has provided Canada with one of the best rail safety records in the world.
From the creation of the rail industry until the 1980’s, rail safety regulation in Canada was based on a reactive, post-incident, “blame and punish” compliance approach that proved ineffective in the modern era. Accordingly, in 1989, Parliament passed the Railway Safety Act (RSA), with the objectives of fostering a modern approach to safety management. This enduring legislation encourages the collaboration and active participation of railway management, employees, unions, and regulators.
There have been three major reviews of RSA since its initial passage in 1989. All three have confirmed that Canada’s rail safety regime and safety performance are among the best in the world. These reviews have resulted in many amendments which have further strengthened the Act. Most recently, the RSA Review of 2007 resulted in the passage of “The Safer Railways Act” in 2012. This package of legislative amendments further enhanced Transport Canada’s (TC’s) powers for safety oversight, compliance monitoring, and enforcement.
Canada’s rail safety regime combines robust regulatory oversight with a modern Safety Management Systems (SMS) approach. The regulatory structure ensures that Government is fully resourced and capable of carrying out its safety inspection, compliance, and enforcement mandates on behalf of all Canadians. The complimentary SMS approach ensures collaboration among all stakeholders, proactive risk identification and mitigation, development of a culture of safety, and deployment of safety technology and innovative processes. Under this modern and enviable safety regime, Canadian railways, their employees, and their regulators have been collaboratively delivering industry-leading safety performance for many years.
Railways in Canada and the United States have a strong safety record. In some measure, it’s because there are extensive and rigorous safety regulations that are imposed by government. Rules and standards are prescribed for railway operations from track safety, freight cars, and locomotive inspections to work/rest rules. But, it’s important to note, that before the regulation, you will often hear railroaders say: “Safety is #1!” It’s not a cliché. We say it and, we mean it.
Accident rates of Canadian Class 1 railways have been on a steady decline from 1999 to 2012. In 2012 we had less than two accidents per million train miles moved.
Today, Canada’s railway industry moves close to 75 percent of all surface goods moved. We move $200 billion of goods per year and 30 percent of Canadian products destined for export. Two-thirds of our traffic crosses a border or touches a port. We do all this while contributing only three percent of greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector. Impressive by any measure.
Railways need to make substantial investments in their networks on an annual basis. Close to 20 percent of revenue is invested back into infrastructure. Since 2005 more than $16 billion has been invested by Canadian railway companies. These investments are crucial to making sure that the network operates safely and efficiently.
More impressive though is that we do all this in a culture that places a very high premium on safety: the safety of our employees and the safety of the public at large. Is our record perfect? No, it isn’t. Can it be improved? Yes it can. Will it improve? Without a doubt.
President and CEO
The Railway Association of Canada
Click here for fast facts about rail tank cars.
For background on Canadian rail safety click here.
To read more Commentary click here.
Michael Bourque, President and CEO RAC
Rail Service is on the Right Track
The Hon. Denis Lebel, P.C., M.P., Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the regions of Quebec, released the Final Report of the Facilitator of the Rail Freight Service Review on June 22, 2012 (The Dinning Report). (click here for PDF of full text)
Canada’s railways rank among the best
A Leger poll taken earlier this year highlights some surprising attitudes by Canadians about freight rail. It seems a great majority of Canadians (87%) would support the government providing funding for rail. However, the freight rail industry is not asking the government for such subsidies, nor does it receive any today. Read the full comment published in The Financial Post by clicking here.
CTV News Channel
Michael had a chat with Dan Matheson, co-host of Morning Express, on the resurgence of Canada's Rail sector.
Click here to watch the video.
Rail is booming in Canada
CBC Newsworld - The Lang and O'Leary Exchange
Michael discussed the rail sector's growing momentum on CBC's The Lang & O'Leary Exchange. To view the interview