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New Rail Safety Rules

On December 26, the Minister of Transport approved new or revised rules respecting the safety and security of unattended locomotives, uncontrolled movements, and crew size requirements, rules that, pursuant to section 19 of the Railway Safety Act, Canada’s railway companies were ordered to develop.

Drafted by the Railway Association of Canada, the Section 19 changes to the Canadian Railway Operating rules are more prescriptive than the emergency order, and they are supported by documented experience, evidence and data. These rules now provide an additional layer of safety to the railway industry by clearly articulating what a train crew is required to do to secure equipment or a train.

The new rule now addresses the following issues:

How equipment is left when switching enroute and allows equipment to be left unattended secured by air brakes to a maximum time of two hours. Air brakes are the most secure, effective means of securing a train from movement.

Based on extensive use in operations, totaling over 240,000 distinct uses, air brakes have been used to effectively secure trains without incident. Air brakes have been shown to maintain sufficient pressure for an average of 5.7 hours, therefore the rules in place, when combined with special rules for hand brakes, offer a significant margin of safety.

1. The new rule also addresses unattended engines and requires them to be secured to prevent unauthorized entry.

2. Another improvement in the new rule addresses unattended trains. Aside from having to secure engine (locomotive) from unauthorized entry, the train must be secured by either the use of hand brakes or the use of air brake provided the train will not be left in excess of two hours and not on a grade exceeding 1.25%

The rule now spells out what specific steps must be taken when the train crew is leaving a train unattended.

3. Railways are now required to have special instructions on how to test the effectiveness of the hand brakes.

Currently in place for federally regulated railways, these changes enhance safety in Canada’s railway industry.