Home / News Releases / Railway Association of Canada acknowledges three-year anniversary of Lac-Mégantic incident

Railway Association of Canada acknowledges three-year anniversary of Lac-Mégantic incident

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) and its members are reflecting on the tragic incident that occurred three years ago today in Lac-Mégantic, Que., and are taking stock of the measures that have been taken to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. The industry remains committed to working with regulators, communities and other stakeholders to continuously improve the safety of Canada’s rail system. Since July 2013, some key safety improvements have been made, including:

Train Securement & Other Operational Improvements: While some shortline railways have transported dangerous goods using single-person train crews in the past, all trains carrying tank cars loaded with dangerous goods must now have at least two crew members. Before leaving a train, locomotives must be secured to prevent unauthorized entry. Employees must also ensure that trains are immobilized with air or hand brakes (according to special instructions filed with Transport Canada), and must confirm these actions with another employee. In addition, railways must have Emergency Response Assistance Plans in place whenever they are transporting crude oil and other flammable liquids.

Transparency & Emergency Preparedness: Railways must provide municipalities with regular reports about the dangerous goods moving through their communities, including the number of unit trains, the percentage of railway cars carrying dangerous goods, and the nature and volume of those goods. In 2015, the industry held more than 50 safety-related public meetings with mayors, city managers and First Nations chiefs from coast to coast, and shared information about the goods moving through 590 communities, to help first responders prepare and plan. In addition, in May 2015, Canada’s railways launched the AskRail mobile app, aimed at providing emergency responders with real-time information about a train’s railcar contents in the event of an emergency.

Training & Outreach: In 2015, Canada’s railways trained more than 6,000 first responders, railway employees and industrial plant workers on dangerous goods handling and emergency response. The industry also sponsored 164 first responders to receive rail-specific dangerous goods training in Pueblo, Colorado and at the Justice Institute of British Columbia.

Tank Car Standards & Harmonization: The industry welcomed harmonized Canada-U.S. tank car standards introduced in May 2015. Canada’s railways advocated for more robust tank car standards including increased shell thickness, jacket protection, and full-height head shields to protect the car from puncturing, among other safety features.

Safety Management Systems (SMS): Canada’s railway industry worked collaboratively with Transport Canada to update the SMS regulations. The industry is keen to see further regulatory changes that would allow the use of video and voice recording devices in locomotive cabs, both in accident investigations and as part of each railway company’s SMS.

Investments: Canada’s railways are continuously maintaining and upgrading their networks. The railway industry invests almost $4 billion annually in North American rail infrastructure to ensure its continued safe operation. These investments include innovative technologies to enhance the safety of track and railway rolling stock.

Industry Collaboration: Canada’s railways are working with other industries to ensure the safe transportation of dangerous goods. RAC has partnered with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Canadian Fuels Association to ensure that equipment and expertise are readily available in the event of a transportation incident involving dangerous goods. RAC members also collaborate with the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada through the Responsible Care® and TRANSCAER® initiatives.



Alex Paterson
Railway Association of Canada

About the Railway Association of Canada

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents more than 50 freight and passenger railway companies that move 75 million people and more than $280 billion worth of goods in Canada each year. As the voice of Canada’s railway industry, RAC advocates on behalf of its members and associate members to ensure that the rail sector remains globally competitive, sustainable, and most importantly, safe. Learn more at railcandev.wpengine.com. Connect with us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.