Railways 101

Safety Always Boards First on Canada’s Railways

Every day, Canada’s railways operate 1,100 trains across this country, reliably, cost effectively, and most importantly, safely. Whether they’re transporting people or goods, our railways make safety their priority. And it shows. Their safety record has steadily improved over the past decade―thanks to stringent rules and regulations, and significant investments made by the industry.

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Canada has a strong regulatory system overseeing rail transportation. Railways have to comply with dozens of regulations and hundreds of safety rules on everything from train securement to speed limits and track and equipment inspection and maintenance.

Canada’s Railways―North American Safety Leaders

Canada’s railways are among the safest in North America. Our freight railways have reduced their accident rate by more than 36 per cent in the past decade, despite moving more goods than ever. Accidents on Canada’s intercity, tourist, and commuter railways have also dropped to 0.81 accidents per million passengers.

Canada has a strong regulatory system overseeing rail transportation. Railways have to comply with dozens of regulations and hundreds of safety rules on everything from train securement to speed limits and track and equipment inspection and maintenance. All safety incidents must be reported to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Under the Railway Safety Act, all federally regulated railways, and anyone operating over a federally regulated railway’s tracks, must also have a Safety Management System (SMS) in place. This additional regulatory requirement ensures that railways keep their focus on risk management and safety performance, and that safety culture is integrated into their day-to-day operations. Railways moving dangerous goods also have to comply with the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, and all railways must conduct regular security risk assessments, and develop plans to mitigate those risks.

To meet these regulatory requirements, and make their networks as safe as possible, Canada’s railways have made significant investments―more than $24 billion since 1999―to improve tracks and rail beds, and install innovative technologies to spot risk factors.

Spreading the Safety Message From Coast to Coast

Canada’s railways demonstrate their safety leadership through their day-to-day operations, and through their community outreach and training activities. Through TRANSCAER®, railways work with municipalities, emergency responders and residents in communities along transportation routes, to make sure they are informed about the products being moved through their area, and are prepared to respond in the event of a transportation incident.

Through Operation Lifesaver—an initiative co-funded by the RAC and Transport Canada—Canada’s railways work with communities across the country to reduce the number of rail crossing and trespassing incidents. And it’s working. These incidents have decreased by more than 40 per cent in the past decade.

But the industry knows that even more work needs to be done to ensure rail safety. Through public education, investment, improved safety measures, and initiatives to foster safety culture within the industry, our railways are working hard to ensure the safety of all Canadians.