Transport Canada has approved changes to the Canadian Rail Operating Rules to further reduce the risk of uncontrolled movement of railway material.
The changes are the result of Ministerial Order (MO) 20-09 issued in September 2020, requiring the rail industry to “adopt new practices designed to improve safety and prevent uncontrolled movements during shunting operations, and to make sure the equipment is properly secured while switching, ”according to Transport Canada. (This order was issued following the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s investigation into a 2017 fatal accident at CN’s Melville Yard in Saskatchewan.)
The rules, announced on July 30, now prescribe:
• when speedbrakes are to be used during maneuvers “to ensure a consistent approach across the rail system”.
• measures to ensure that fixed equipment is secure during maneuvers in order to avoid uncontrolled movements.
• speed limits when maneuvers are carried out with a remote-controlled locomotive.
Transport Canada said the changes build on other measures to reduce the number of uncontrolled movements of rail equipment. Among them: Two ministerial orders were published in March, following the derailment on February 1, 2021 of a Goderich-Exeter Railway train running at the Goderich construction site. The first (MO 21-01) required railways to implement specific procedures for locomotive engineers to prevent uncontrolled movements due to unintentional release of a train’s air brakes; the second (MO 21-02) required the rail industry to “add an additional layer of defense” by proposing amendments to the Locomotive Inspection and Safety Regulations and the Canadian Rail Operating Rules ( REF) for approval by the Minister.
“Maintaining a safe, efficient and reliable rail system is essential to the continued success of the Canadian economy,” said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra. “Transport Canada continues to work to modernize its rail safety oversight and directly address the key safety risks facing the Canadian rail system.
In February, the Auditor General of Canada, the equivalent of the US Government Accountability Office, released a report criticizing Transport Canada for its overall effectiveness in overseeing rail safety.