OTTAWA, ON-- Transport Canada has released a statement saying that strong federal railway safety regulations are in place to ensure the safety and protection of the public, despite some media reports to the contrary.
Transport Canada said it does not advise railway operators in advance of inspections for equipment and operations. However, the railway operators must be advised of inspections of tracks. This is done so that rail operators do not move trains on the segment of tracks being inspected, which would endanger the inspectors. During the inspection, the track being inspected will be impassable to train traffic. Operators are informed ahead of time so that they can reschedule trains if necessary, to avoid network congestion and blocked crossings, said the agency.
"Every company has their own hand brake instructions that stipulate how many brakes should be applied based on terrain/hills, weather/winds, weight/quantity of goods in rail cars, etc. All railways use the push-pull test to ensure the train doesn’t move. If the test fails and the train moves, they apply more brakes until the train passes the push-pull test and does not move.
Transport Canada’s oversight role includes monitoring railway companies for compliance with rules, regulations and standards, as well as the overall safety of railway operations through audits, inspections, and investigations. Rail companies are inspected regularly as part of Transport Canada’s risk-based inspection program. If regulations are not followed, the department does not hesitate to take action," said the statement.
Building upon recent safety advisories from the Transportation Safety Board and to further enhance rail safety operations, on July 23, 2013, Transport Canada also announced an emergency directive pursuant to section 33 of the Railway Safety Act requiring all railway operators to:
Ensure the directional controls, commonly known as reversers, are removed from any unattended locomotives, preventing them from moving forward or backward on a main track or sidings;
Ensure that their company’s special instructions on hand brakes are applied to any locomotive attached to one or more cars that is left unattended for more than one hour on a main track or sidings; and
Ensure that, in addition to complying with their company’s special instructions on hand brakes referred to in the item immediately above, the automatic brake is set in full service position and the independent brake is fully applied for any locomotive attached to one or more cars that are left unattended for one hour or less on a main track or sidings.
Transport Canada said it has already taken steps to increase rail safety in Canada and will continue to do more.