Transport Canada Updates Track Safety Rules

The Rules Respecting Track Safety, which took effect May 25, 2012, “specify safety requirements that railway companies must follow when inspecting and maintaining their railway track infrastructure,” according to Transport Canada.

The changes released May 31 now require companies to:

•  Implement a certification process for track inspection employees, and “supervise the restoration of tracks to make sure their personnel have the proper knowledge and experience to carry out their safety duties.”
• Establish “a process to ensure that track maintenance and repair work meets regulatory requirements and the railway companies’ own standards to improve accountability.”
• Develop and implement “comprehensive plans to manage rail wear and the condition of the rail surface, that are to be approved by a professional engineer to improve the integrity of railway tracks.”

Transport Canada monitors railroads for compliance with rules, regulations and standards made under the Railway Safety Act through risk-based audits and safety inspections.

“These changes to the Rules Respecting Track Safety will help ensure improved inspection and maintenance practices become a permanent part of safer railway operations in Canada,” Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said. “They demonstrate our government’s commitment to directly address the Auditor General’s recent findings, and mitigate the key risks facing Canada’s rail network.”

In February, Canada’s Auditor General, the equivalent of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, released a report criticizing Transport Canada as to its overall effectiveness overseeing rail safety.

In related news, Transport Canada in March released two Ministerial Orders, under the Railway Safety Act, to further reduce the risk of uncontrolled rail equipment moves.

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