Rail Safety


Canada's railways run an average of 1,100 passenger and goods trains every day, over rugged terrain and in some of the world's worst weather conditions. Despite that, they have the best safety record in North America and provide by far the safest means of ground transportation in Canada.

Safety Regulation
Rail safety is highly regulated in Canada. Transport Canada (TC) has regulatory oversight over the sector, and rigorously enforces legislationrules and regulations, such as those related to train securement, speed limits, and track and equipment inspection and maintenance. All incidents are reported to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Amendments to the Railway Safety Act in 1999 required railways to implement Safety Management Systems (SMS) to integrate safety into their day-to-day operations. SMS did not replace or lessen any existing safety rules or regulations, nor did it reduce Transport Canada’s oversight in any way. In fact, SMS represents an additional layer of regulation through which railways must focus on risk management and safety performance.

SMS added new requirements for railways to:
- Ensure that they have safety targets and report results to Transport Canada;
- Develop processes to ensure employees are aware of regulations;
- Maintain policies beyond minimum requirements;
- Measure, monitor, and track hazards and defects;
- Solicit employee input; and 
- Mitigate hazards to reduce or eliminate risks.

Since SMS was introduced, Canada’s freight and passenger accident rates have declined considerably. For example, over the last decade, the freight rail accident rate - freight rail accidents in relation to the freight sector's workload - has decreased by more than 40 per cent, despite the fact that railways are moving more goods than ever.

 

Media contacts:
Alex Paterson
Public Affairs Coordinator
Telephone: (613) 564-8111
alexp@railcan.ca

Sarah Mayes
Director, Public Affairs
(613) 564-8097
smayes@railcan.ca


Connect with the RAC


Rail safety resources

President’s message: Canada’s railways are on track with safety improvements

Factsheet
: Railway industry safety measures since Lac-Mégantic.

Infographic: Rail safety in Canada.

 

©2016 The Railway Association of Canada. All rights reserved.

Rail Trends

The Railway Association of Canada's Rail Trends provides a ten-year composite of financial and operating statistics for a comprehensive review of the business of transporting goods and people by rail in Canada. This review covers virtually all interveners of rail - the Class 1s, regional freight companies, short lines, intercity passenger, commuter and tourist train... MORE >