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Rail Symposium: Safety & Climate Resiliency on our Rails!

To register, please go to Symposium Ferroviaire 2023 | Rail Symposium 2023 | AQTr – Association québécoise des transports

A Canadian first! The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) and the Association québécoise des transports (AQTr) join forces and invite you to their Rail Symposium: Safety & Climate Resiliency on our Rails!

This pan-Canadian gathering of the rail transportation industry is the event you absolutely must attend! Wednesday, November 15 and Thursday, November 16, 2023 at the Centre Sheraton Hotel in downtown Montreal.

A number of key players will be there to discuss safety issues and the impact of climate change on the rail industry!

Every day, Canada’s railways operate 1,100 trains across the country, reliably, efficiently, sustainably, and, above all, safely. In passenger and freight transportation, safety is a daily priority. Find out more at the Rail Symposium!

With billions of dollars already invested in infrastructure and the purchase of new, more fuel-efficient locomotives, Canada’s railways maintain their commitment to a sustainable future! Discover the efforts that still need to be made to create a transportation system that sustainably moves goods and passengers, with a view to increasing resiliency against the impacts of climate change.

This event is in partnership with:

Association québécoise des transports (AQTr)


Atkins Realis
Universal Rail Systems





We are pleased to welcome you to the Centre Sheraton Hotel. We have negotiated a rate at the Centre Sheraton Hotel, located at 1201, boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest, in Montreal.

To reserve a room, please email Janet Greene at jgreene@railcan.ca


Simultaneous translation will be available during the main plenary sessions.

Wednesday November 15

Time  Session Location
07:30 – 08:30 Registration and continental breakfastBallroom West and Centre
08:10 – 08:30Welcome and Opening Remarks
Marc Brazeau, President and CEO, Railway Association of Canada
Suzanne Proulx, Executive Director, Association Québecoise du transports
Farrah Fleurimon, Director General, Rail Safety, Transport Canada
Ballroom West and Centre
08:30 – 09:30 Keynote speaker: Solange De Blois, Assistant Director Mechanical Technology, CPKC
By investing in technology and championing innovation, CPKC is solidifying their position as a leader in moving the economy safely and efficiently.
Ballroom West and Centre
09:30 – 10:30 Standards for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in Rail – Transit and Passenger
Cliff Rondeau, CSA Group
Mathieu Cyr, CPCS
Ballroom West and Centre
09:30 – 10:30Breakout Session: Women in Rail (League of Railway Women)
In partnership with the League of Railway Women, this panel will focus on the real-life stories of women from various backgrounds and how they found their way into the rail industry. Please join us for this exciting session and opportunity for you to ask these railroaders questions.
Moderator: Janet Greene, Director, Member Engagement, Railway Association of Canada
Vanessa Knapton, Senior Vice President, Sales Cathcart Rail, Former Trainmaster and Conductor/Brakeman for BNSF Railway Company 
Michele Malski, Founder, Succession Planning for Railroads Investing
in the Next Generation LLC (SPRING)Director at Large, League of Railway Women. Former Trainmaster for BNSF Railway and CPKC.
Rosemarie Engele, Senior Rail Traffic Controller Chief, CN
Ballroom East
10:30 – 11:00 Break   Ballroom West and Centre
11:00 – 12:00 
Best practices for more homes, better liveability near rail lines
From coast to coast to coast, towns have been built around rail tracks and Canadians have relied on railways to ensure the efficient movement of goods and people. But the practice of developing land in close proximity to railway operations, and the expansion of rail in urban areas, has caused some challenges for municipalities, developers and railways. Learn how the proximity initiative is helping. 

Moderator: Jenelle Saskiw, Project Manager, Proximity Initiative  
Eric Harvey, Senior Counsel – Regulatory Affairs / Law Department, CN
Dave Poole, Partner, Dillon Consulting Limited
Brooke Marshall, Senior Planner, City of Toronto
Ballroom West and Centre
12:00 – 13:30  Lunch Ballroom West and Centre
13:30 – 14:15PANEL – Rail Safety Initiatives and
Lessons Learned Post COVID-19

Members share stories/case studies of lessons learned on safety throughout the pandemic.   
Nancy Rockbrune, Director & Head of Operational Safety, Metrolinx
Paul Maglietta, Vice President Bus Operations, Metrolinx
Stephen Shimek, Director of Safety, Environment and Emergency Management, BC Rapid Transit Company
Ballroom West and Centre
 14:15 – 14:30Break
 14:30 – 15:00How data is collected and used by the TSB to advance rail transportation safety in Canada
Vincenzo De Angelis, Director, Investigations – Rail/Pipeline  Transportation Safety Board  
Ballroom West and Centre
 15:00 – 15:30Cybersecurity – Bill C-26
Nareg Froundjian, Associate, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin
Luciano Bentenuto, Senior Director Corporate Security, VIA Rail Canada
17:00 Networking ReceptionHall
17:15 – 18:00 Keynote Speaker: Thierry Lysiak, Vice President, Business Development, Genesee & Wyoming Canada
Drummond Room
19:30 End of the cocktailHall

Thursday November 16

Time SessionLocation
7:30 Registration and continental breakfastDrummond Room
8:30 Introduction from the Quebec Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility
Rail safety at the Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility: issues and challenges  

Dave Henry, Director of Air and Rail Transportation
9:00 – 10:00PANEL – Safety Culture
Creating a strong safety culture is about ensuring that an entire organization—from top to bottom — is on the same page when it comes to safety. It’s about making sure everyone shares the same values, attitudes, competencies, and patterns of behaviour. 
Moderator: Sam Berrada, Principal,  SAB Vanguard Consulting
Peter Armstrong-Whitworth, Manager, Safety Systems Overview, Transport Canada
Brian Hartlep, Safety Manager, Engineering, CN
Robert Tully, Managing Director, Safety, CPKC
Dr. Mark Fleming, Professor, St. Mary’s University
10:00Break – Presented by AECOM 
10:30 – 11:00Climate Institute of Canada | Climate Risk Institute: State of the situation, data and impacts on railway infrastructure. New standards and protocols related to climate change.  
Erik Sparling, Vice President, Climate Risk Institute
11:00 – 12:00PANEL – Resilience of railway infrastructures in the face of climate change – Presented by Wabtec
Joanna Eyquem, Managing Director, Climate Resilient Infrastructure: University of Waterloo
Francois Bélanger, Senior Director Sustainability, CN
Polytechnique – Speaker to be confirmed
Annie Bourget, ingénieure au ministère des Transports et de la Mobilité durable
12:00 – 14:00Lunch talk with Martin Imbleau President and CEO of VIA HFR /VIA TGF 
13:30 – 14:00
Urgent action: adoption of safety standards linked to climate change – In Vision Approach
Hélène Dubé, Environmental and Sustainable project development specialist, AtkinsRéalis
Frédéric Sénécal, engineers and sustainable development project specialists, AtkinsRéalis Public Transport and Rail.
14:00 – 14:30
Light Rail Transit (LRT) project
underway in Ontario

Charles Ormsby, Responsable de la durabilité et des services climatiques
Raphaëlle Barbier St-Hilaire, conceptrice principale.
14:30 – 15:00
Sound Energy management system – Presented by Centre d’expertise ferroviaire RAIL
Jacques Coulombe Senior Director – Train Operations and Infrastructure / Directeur principal – Exploitation train et infrastructures exo
Joseph Cianci, Project Manager – Train operations and infrastructure / Chargé de projets- Exploitation train et infrastructures exo
14:30 – 15:00Hydrogen train – development  
and impacts in Quebec 
Éric Rondeau, Head of Montreal Innovation Centre; Green Innovation Americas, Alstom
15:15 – 15:45TrafxSAFE Rail – A new proactive safety approach for level crossings
Introducing TrafxSAFE Rail, an online platform that uses intelligence artificial and computer vision to assist railway operators, transportation and traffic engineers

Paul, St-Aubin, Senior Product Manager, Transoft Solutions
15:15 – 15:45Charlevoix Railway: a structural network to support the region
Nancy Belley General Manager Chemin de fer Charlevoix
Caroline Masson Assistant Director Infrastructure-Hatch
15:45 – 16:15  New rail program
15:45 – 16:15 
Operational Safety Process – How to integrate safety into the design of new railway projects  
Aline Sysavath ing., PMP Security expert AtkinsRéalis
16:0016:10  Closing remarks – End of the conference  

Speakers and Bios

Aline Sysavath

An industrial risk management engineer with a specialization in transport, Aline has over 15 years’ experience, mainly in the rail sector, but also in other sectors, supporting various projects linked to operational safety in Canada, France and elsewhere in the world.

Anthony Baratta

Anthony is a civil engineer with extensive experience in railway operations, project management and bridges and structures. Anthony supports major strategic initiatives that meet the needs of new and existing clients.

Caroline Masson

Trained as a civil engineer, Caroline has been working for over 15 years, mainly in the rail sector, on major tramway, metro and mainline projects. An expert in track design, she also has an experience of team management, acquired through her projects.

Dave PooleM.Sc. P.Eng., CRM, SCR

Dave is a Partner at Dillon Consulting with over 25 years of risk management, environmental management, sustainability, climate resiliency, strategic planning and policy development experience.  Dave is a Certified Risk Manager (CRM) with the Global Risk Management Institute and a Sustainability and Climate Risk (SCR) professional through the Global Association of Risk Professionals. Dave has worked on a broad range of rail proximity and rail safety issues in Canada and the United States, including development of risk-based land-use frameworks, need and suitability of grade level crossings, and the transportation and handling of dangerous goods.  He was a panelist in the Fall of 2013 in Chicago to speak on the Lac-Mégantic rail derailment, and is currently overseeing peer reviews of rail safety assessments for proposed developments for the City of Toronto.

Dr. Mark FlemmingPhD  

Dr. Fleming is a Professor in the department of psychology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax Nova Scotia. Between 2013 and 2018 he was the CN Professor of Safety Culture. Dr. Fleming has 30 years of experience working with a wide range of organizations to improve performance. He specializes in leadership and culture improvement. He advises regulators (e.g., Transport Canada, Canadian Energy Regulator, UK nuclear regulator, US Department of Transport) and large organizations (e.g., Crowley Marine, Emera, PG&E).  He is dedicated to developing practical and valid tools to assist organizations to understand their culture and identify improvement opportunities.  He holds degrees from the University of Aberdeen, and The Robert Gordon University in Scotland.

Éric RondeauAlstom

Éric Rondeau is Director of Alstom’s Innovation Center Americas. Previously, he acted as Senior Strategic Advisor to Investissement Québec International and the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec for the launch of Quebec’s battery industry. Over the past 25 years, he has initiated and carried out complex projects as a business developer and program manager at CAE Energy Control Systems, TELUS and GE Renewable Energy, among others, in the Asian and American markets. He holds a degree in industrial engineering from École Polytechnique de Montréal and a PMP certification in project management.

Francois Belanger
Senior Director Sustainability, CN

François is Senior Director Sustainability at CN, a leader in the sustainability space.  In his role, he leads the development and implementation of the enterprise climate action plan and he measures progress towards set targets.  The Sustainability team is also working closely with the Engineering department on climate adaptation.  In the last 15+ years, François has been in different roles at CN, in Operations, Strategy, Finance, and IT.  He is a Engineer by trade and he has an MBA from HEC Montreal.  He is based in Montreal.

Jacques Coulombe, MBASenior Director – Train Operations and Infrastructure

Employed by exo since October 2015, Jacques has held the position of Senior Director – Train Operations and Infrastructure since April 2019. A solid professional with over 25 years’ experience in the rail industry, the last 10 of which have been devoted to passenger transport, Jacques is recognized for his operational and managerial strength in operations, civil and rail infrastructures, and rolling stock.

Joseph CianciProject Manager – Train operations and infrastructure

Project Manager, Train Operations and Infrastructure at exo since 2021, Joseph has devoted his entire professional career to passenger rail transport. He brings extensive expertise acquired as a consultant and at Via Rail, in development, consulting, quality and cost control, and project management as a prime contractor or project owner.  Since his transition to exo, he has concentrated his efforts on projects aimed at sound energy management and the definition of performance standards leading to the ongoing transformation of best practices.

Luc Faucher

With a PhD in materials and metallurgy engineering, Luc Faucher founded and has directed the Centre d’expertise ferroviaire RAIL at Cégep de Sept-Îles since 2020. In addition to this role, he heads the NSERC College Industrial Research Chair in Rail Operations and Maintenance.

Martin Imbleau
President and CEO

Martin Imbleau brings to VIA HFR – VIA TGF Inc. exceptional leadership skills and expertise in delivering large, complex infrastructure projects in green zones. He also benefits from solid experience with various stakeholders, aboriginal communities, national and international partners, business leaders, governments at all levels and a wide range of experts, which is proving to be a valuable asset on the high-frequency rail project.

Prior to joining VIA HFR – VIA TGF Inc. Mr. Imbleau was President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority, where he successfully transformed the company from a public utility to a major economic driver and recognized leader in environmental and sustainable development.

Previously, at Hydro-Québec, he held the position of Vice-President, directing the company’s strategy and development in Québec, neighboring provinces and the United States, including the development of major energy transmission infrastructure projects. He also worked for Énergir, formerly known as Gaz Métro, a leading energy supplier in Quebec and the United States. As Vice-President, he was responsible for business development, renewable energies, community relations, corporate strategy, safety, operations, major projects, gas supply and transportation.

Martin Imbleau holds a Master of Laws from Université de Montréal and a Bachelor of Laws from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1997. While working on the development of major infrastructures, Mr. Imbleau pursued his international commitment to the defense of human rights. He is also the author of numerous works on international human rights law, genocide and transitional justice.

Mr. Imbleau chairs the Board of Directors of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at UQAM. He co-founded the Chair in Energy Sector Management at HEC Montréal, the business school attached to the Université de Montréal.

Nareg FroundjianAssociate, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin

Nareg is a technology lawyer in Fasken’s privacy and cybersecurity group. He advises some of Canada’s foremost organizations and startups, drawing on more than seven years of experience in consulting at the confluence of law and technology. He finds practical solutions to data protection issues, with a focus on preparing for, and responding to, cybersecurity incidents.

He practices law in Quebec and Ontario, in both French and English. He is CIPP/C certified from the International Association of Privacy Professionals. He sits on the board of directors of the Jeune Barreau de Montréal and chairs its information technology committee.

Solange De BloisAssistant Director Mechanical Technology at Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) Railway

Solange de Blois is the Assistant Director Mechanical Technology at Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) Railway, holding a mechanical engineering degree from Concordia University. With over 7 years of railway expertise, she specializes in safety, technology and innovation. She helps to pioneer CPKC’s technology driven train inspection processes, including Remote Safety Inspection and Cold Wheel Technology, with a focus on improved safety and efficiency through data analytics and automation.

Robert Tully

Robert TullyManaging Director, Safety, CPKC

For the past 24 years Bob Tully has been instrumental in guiding the safety direction at CPKC. Leadership, collaboration and courage have been foundational in his mission to reduce risk to the lowest possible level at the railroad. As current Managing Director of Safety, Bob uses his experience in process safety management, operational safety and employee engagement to drive a strong safety culture of shared values, behaviours and attitudes through CPKC’s Home Safe program. Currently Bob is tackling his latest challenge: combining safety cultures from two companies, with a vision of driving safety performance improvements, making sure that all CPKC employees continue to go Home Safe.

Stephen ShimekDirector, Safety, Environment and Emergency Management, British Columbia Rapid Transit Company

Bringing nearly three decades of diverse experience across manufacturing, marine transportation, and public transportation, including expertise in both bus and rail sectors. In his current role as the Director of Safety, Environment, and Emergency Management at the British Columbia Rapid Transit Company, Stephen brings a wealth of experience in enhancing safety culture and cultivating employee engagement. Throughout the past two decades, he has dedicated himself to navigating the complexities of management systems, with a primary focus on Safety, Security, Quality, Environmental, and Emergency Management. Stephen’s unwavering commitment extends to enhancing safety standards across diverse transportation domains, where he endeavors to harmonize resources and streamline processes, aiming to achieve and maintain best-in-class standards.

Brooke Marshall

Brooke is a Senior Planner at the City of Toronto.  Brooke has been a municipal land use planner in both BC and Ontario over the last 18 years, leading land use studies and policy development ranging from agriculture and community sustainability to official plan updates integrated with infrastructure master planning. At the City of Toronto, Brooke led the development of the City’s Rail Safety policy and is currently leading the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods Major Streets Study.  

Brian HartlepCN – Manager of Engineering – Safety

Brian’s role, he leads Safety of the Engineering team through the system (Canada and the United States) reporting directly to the Vice President of CN Engineering.  Brian has over 30 years of unique experience in Safety. Brian started his safety career as a Police Officer, served in the US Navy, formerly a Director of Human Resources and Safety for a large maritime company, a Senior Safety Consultant with Arcadis and currently with CN for the past five plus years. He has completed projects specializing in but not limited to critical lifts, confined space, IH testing, dredging, transportation and much more.  His current role is moving the needle through-out Engineering and their safety program through hazard identification, exposure control and successful field engagements. Brian is no stranger to bringing teams together not just for injury reduction but culture change. He earned his Bachelor and Master of Science in Occupational Safety and Health Environmental Management from Columbia Southern University. Brian currently holds a certification of Graduate Safety Professional (GSP) through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) and previously Safety Management Specialist (SMS), Construction Health Safety Technician (CHST) and Safety Trained Supervisor (STS).

Clifton Rondeau

As Manager, Standards Strategic Development at CSA Group, Cliff explores new and emerging areas within Canada where standards-based solutions could bring value. In his 14 years at CSA, he has been involved in the development of safety and performance-based standards solutions in the areas of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and information and communications technology (ICT). Prior to CSA, Cliff spent 16+ years in product development and manufacturing roles within the automotive sector.

Peter Armstrong-Whitworth
Manager for Safety Systems Overview, Rail Safety, Quebec Region, Transport Canada 

Peter started his career in the Canadian Forces Reserves and then worked on a range of key international security matters at National Defence and Global Affairs Canada.  At Transport Canada, he worked in the areas of transportation security, intelligence, emergency preparedness and rail safety. In 2014, he served as departmental liaison with Justice Canada concerning Lac-Mégantic. He led Transport Canada’s regional response to the 2017 floods in Quebec as well as its involvement in the 2018 G7 Summit. He currently manages a team of railway safety management system inspectors and chairs the department’s Multimodal Safety and Security Management Systems Task Force.

Mathieu Cyr, Associate Vice President, Canada, CPCS

Mathieu is Associate Vice President and a senior infrastructure consultant focused on the Canadian market. His specialty is in planning and developing major infrastructure projects. Through his training and career, he has developed a deep expertise in strategic planning, socio-economic studies, market analysis, risk analysis as well as impact assessment. His understanding of issues encountered in project and policy development enables him to advise decision-makers and infrastructure leaders on their most impactful decisions.

Vanessa Knapton

Vanessa KnaptonSenior Vice President, Sales – Field Services at Cathcart Rail

Knapton joined the railroad industry as a switchman-conductor in 1994 for the Santa Fe (ATSF) in Los Angeles, California. Having received her undergraduate degree from the prestigious northeastern women’s college, Smith College, this might have been seen as a strange choice of careers, but Knapton worked for four years “on the ground”, on yard jobs, RIP track switching, and as a conductor up and down the fabled Cajon Pass until 1998, when one of her managers asked her to take an open trainmaster position.

Knapton worked as a Trainmaster for the now named BNSF Railway for ten years at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles during the first international intermodal boom of the early 2000s. She helped design the operations systems for the massive influx of container business from 2000 to its height in 2006. During her tenure as trainmaster, Knapton completed an MBA program at Chapman University.

Knapton and BNSF parted ways in 2008 and Knapton worked in warehouse logistics and for a railroad shipper (C&F Foods) until she joined an early entrant in a niche market of the railcar repair business in 2011. For the last dozen years, Knapton has worked for three of the largest running repair agent companies in the country (Harbor Rail, The Andersons Inc. and Cathcart Rail). She currently oversees a nationwide footprint of 50 short line repair operations and develops new business partnerships.

Knapton has three adult children, aged 21-28 and lives in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Her company, Cathcart Rail, is a leading freight rail services and transportation company. The company currently operates the largest railcar services network, encompassing 18 repair facilities and over 75 field services locations, as well as a rail services division that operates three short line railroads and a dozen contract switching and transloading sites, among other services such as railcar storage, track maintenance, and railcar parts.

Thierry LysiakVice-President Business Development, Genesee & Wyoming Canada

Mr. Thierry Lysiak was appointed Vice President of Business Development in 2023 at GWCI, where he will lead the business development opportunities of the company as well as manage the relations with Canadian and Quebec government entities.

Prior to G&W, Thierry held various senior Sales and Marketing positions at CN Rail from Director Business Development to Director Marketing – Forest Products as well as Director of Sales Eastern Canada and U.S. early in his extensive career. During his long tenure, Thierry successfully managed portfolios in Forest Products, Metals and Minerals, Intermodal and Petroleum and Chemical business sectors.

He earned a Bachelor’ Degree in Operation Management as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from University du Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you in November.

Association québécoise des transports (AQTr)