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

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