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Railway Association of Canada statement on two-year anniversary of Lac-Mégantic

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) today acknowledges the tragic accident that occurred two years ago in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Canada’s railway industry remains deeply committed to making sure that a tragedy like this never happens again. Since the accident in Lac-Mégantic, RAC and Transport Canada have both taken several measures to improve rail safety in Canada in the following areas:

Safety Improvements: Canada’s railways have worked with Transport Canada to strengthen train securement and operating practices to ensure rail safety. 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, Emergency Response Assistance Plans must be in place whenever crude oil and other flammable liquids are carried.

Transparency & Emergency Preparedness: Railways share expanded information with municipalities about the dangerous goods travelling through their communities. In 2014, the industry held 125 safety-related public meetings with mayors, city managers and First Nations chiefs from coast to coast, and shared information about the goods moving through 565 communities, to help first responders prepare and plan. In May, Canada’s railways launched the AskRail mobile app, aimed at providing emergency responders with real-time information about a train’s rail car contents in the event of an emergency.

Training & Outreach: In 2014, Canada’s railways trained more than 9,500 first responders, railway employees and industrial plant workers on dangerous goods handling and emergency response. The industry also sponsored more than 300 first responders to receive rail-specific dangerous goods training in Pueblo, Colorado.

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 recently worked collaboratively with Transport Canada to revise 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, for use both in accident investigation and as part of each railway company’s SMS.

Investments: Canada’s railways are continuously maintaining and upgrading their networks. The railway industry invests more than $2.5 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.


Additional resources:

Click here for an information sheet about the measures that Transport Canada has taken to strengthen rail safety in Canada since the accident in Lac-Mégantic.


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 $250 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 Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.