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Canada to require new switching rules after fatal accident

(Source: Transport Canada press release, October 8, 2020)

OTTAWA, Ontario — The Government of Canada is committed to making railway operations as safe as possible by establishing rules, regulations and standards for Canada’s railway system.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced new measures to improve rail safety in Canada following the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s (TSB) investigation into a 2017 fatal accident at Canadian National Railways’ (CN) Melville Yard in Saskatchewan.

These measures include a Ministerial Order that requires the rail industry to adopt new practices for employees to follow when conducting switching operations to ensure that equipment is properly secured.

In addition, Transport Canada will continue revising the Railway Employee Qualification Standards Regulations to strengthen oversight requirements and address gaps related to training and experience of employees. The department will also pursue work with the railway industry and labour representatives to identify the underlying causes of uncontrolled movements that occur while switching without air (i.e., without using air brakes on individual rail cars), and develop strategies or regulatory requirements to reduce their frequency.

These actions follow the TSB’s investigation into the tragic death of a (CN) foreman that occurred on December 22, 2017, as a result of an uncontrolled movement of rail cars while performing switching operations.

The investigation concluded that the crew’s limited experience likely contributed to a decision to switch three loaded cars at insufficient speed up an ascending grade. It also determined that there was a lack of communication between the two employees.

Transport Canada shares the Transportation Safety Board’s commitment to advancing the safety of Canada’s transportation system and is committed to working with partners to further enhance the safety of Canada's railway system.

“I am deeply troubled every time there is a rail incident that results in a tragic death,” Garneau said. “Our Government is continuously looking for ways to make our railway system safer. I thank the Transportation Safety Board of Canada for its thorough work in investigating the uncontrolled movement at the Melville Yard in Saskatchewan.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

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