President's Message

Canada’s railways are on track with safety improvements

Now that the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has issued its final report on the tragic accident in Lac-Mégantic, Canadians will have questions and concerns about railway safety.

We know first-hand how fortunate we are in Canada to have strong institutions like the TSB to undertake this kind of post-accident investigation. The railway industry has an excellent and productive relationship with the TSB. Railways will learn from this report, and will work to ensure that mistakes are not repeated, whether they originate from human error, technical failure or process deficiency.

We have already started in earnest. Several initiatives to improve safety, transparency and response are underway – many of which pre-date Lac-Mégantic – and other efforts have been accelerated since then. This includes developing new safety rules and regulations, redoubling efforts for first-responder training, and working with stakeholders and technology providers to deploy new safety approaches such as in-cab audio and video recording systems (a TSB recommendation). As of 2014, rail companies must also commit to a safety culture as a requirement for membership in the Railway Association of Canada.

The federal government acted quickly by issuing new directives and applying new rules specifically related to the accident. Together, railways and regulators have taken a comprehensive view on ways to achieve further safety improvements, including train securement practices, information sharing with communities, and enhanced emergency response preparedness.

The question of tank car integrity is central. The railway industry has advocated the accelerated  phasing-out of the older DOT-111 tank cars, and has called for tank cars to be built to a higher standard. The federal government has acted on those recommendations.

In addition to these safety measures, we are working on new regulations and investments for grade crossings, occupational health and safety standards, regulations for emergency response assistance plans and freight car inspection rules. There are also new administrative penalties in place, and we’ve partnered with energy-producing industries to ensure the safe transportation of dangerous goods.

Railways in Canada must follow legislation and comply with dozens of regulations and hundreds of prescriptive rules. In parallel with this regulatory regime, each company must have its own safety management system (SMS), which focuses on proactive risk assessment and management, employee involvement, audit, and training to promote a sound safety culture.

Since 2002, railways have spent $13 billion on capital projects to ensure the safety of their infrastructure – including investments in innovative safety technologies. These investments are a key reason why Canadian National and Canadian Pacific are the two safest railways in North America, and why Canada’s shortline railways also have excellent safety records.

The railway industry‘s freight and passenger accident rates have significantly declined over the past decade. This improvement is largely thanks to track and equipment investments; a robust regulatory system; mandated safety management systems (SMS) and the industry’s safety culture. Armed with the information contained in the TSB report, we are committed to improving further while fulfilling our role as the backbone of a globally competitive economy.

Michael Bourque
President & CEO
Railway Association of Canada

RAC President, Michael Bourque Michael Bourque, President and CEO RAC President's Message

Providing Safe, Reliable Rail Transportation of Crude Oil in North America
On both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, we are solemnly reflecting on the one-year observance of a terrible tragedy. On July 6, 2013, 47 people were killed when a train hauling crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Que. (Click here for PDF of full text)

Canadian Rail is Safe
Canada’s railways suffered high profile and unfortunate accidents last year, most notably the horrific tragedy in Lac-Mégantic. As a result, Canadians are justifiably concerned with railway safety in their community and their country. Several initiatives to improve safety, transparency and response are underway. (Click here for PDF of full text)

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.

Rail Renaissance

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
click here.


©2014 The Railway Association of Canada. All rights reserved.

Interchange Magazine

Our quarterly magazine, Interchange, provides an in-depth perspective on the vast array of critically important issues facing our more than 50 freight and passenger railways and is an important link to our suppliers, customers, related industry associations, friends, allies, government officials and community leaders. We invite you to explore the newly designed RAC Interchange Magazine... MORE >